Monday, May 27, 2019

It's The Living That Hurt You, Not The Dead

The overnight UK broadcast of the final episode of Game Of Thrones averaged a staggering 3.2 million - tired and emotional - viewers, according to the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Another five hundred and twenty seven thousand punters caught the repeat on Monday evening. The show averaged seventy three per cent of the TV-watching audience during its broadcast on Sky Atlantic from 2am on Monday. Though, to be honest, you have to wonder what the other twenty seven per cent of people watching telly at two o'clock in the morning were tuned into? Data from the TV ratings system Overnights suggests fifty one per cent of adult viewers were male and sixty eight per cent were in the ABC1 socio-economic groups. Most of whom, seemingly, didn't have to get up for work the next morning. For the repeat, at 9pm on Monday, viewers from the West Midlands made up nineteen per cent of the audience and the South-West accounted for but two per cent. So, more people were watching in Walsall than in Yeovil, then. Fascinating. The programme has been an 'uge ratings success for HBO in the US and for Sky in the UK. Sky's paid-for streaming service Now TV has reportedly signed up about 1.6 million households, compared with Netflix's 12.3 million in the UK. The popular adult fantasy drama's final episode received largely positive reviews, particularly from this blogger who thought it was great.
Though, of course, some people just couldn't help themselves and whinged about it anyway. Or, as The New Republic wrote, Fans Are Ruining Game Of Thrones - And Everything Else!
Meanwhile, over in the US, 13.6 million overnight viewers watched the initial broadcast of the episode, a number which grew to 19.3 million with the addition of first-day time-shifting and video on demand. That's not just a record for Game Of Thrones, it's larger than any single episode of any series in HBO history. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the final episode 'continued the season's trend of posting one ratings record after another for the show.' The series included five of the six most-watched episodes in the show's history. The article goes on to note that DVR and replay viewing helped propel the series to 'an unheard-of' forty three million viewers through to 12 May - ten million more viewers than watched series seven on average.
George RR Martin, meanwhile, called the ending of the adaptation of his novels ;bittersweet' and praised the work of the production team. The author said that asking which one is 'the real ending,' between the show and his books, is, 'a silly question. "How will it all end?" I hear people asking,' Martin wrote on his blog. '"The same ending as the show? Different?" Well, yes. And no. And yes. And no ... I am working in a very different medium than David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], never forget. They had six hours for this final season. I expect these last two books of mine will fill three thousand manuscript pages between them before I'm done. And, if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I'll add them. There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all and others who died in the show but still live in the books. So, if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet. And yes, there will be unicorns. Of a sort.' The blog began with the words 'The last night, the last show. After eight epic seasons, HBO's Game Of Thrones series has come to an end. It is hard to believe it is over, if truth be told. The years have gone past in the blink of an eye. Can it really have been more than a decade since my manager Vince Gerardis set up a meeting at The Palm in LA and I sat down for the first time with David Benioff and DB Weiss for a lunch that lasted well past dinner? I asked them if they knew who Jon Snow's mother was. Fortunately, they did.' George thanked the cast and crew who worked on the show. 'There were forty two cast members at the season eight premiere in New York City and that wasn't even all of them. And the crew, though less visible than the cast, were no less important. We had some amazing people working on this show, as all those EMMYs bear witness.'
Secure phonelines and codenames are usually the preserve of governments and secret services. But when it came to Game Of Thrones spoilers, the producers of the adult fantasy mega-hit weren't taking any chances, as the woman who made its official behind-the-scenes documentary found out. Filmmaker Jeanie Finlay, whose work has previously appeared on BBC4, usually tells 'intimate stories' in her documentaries. So she might not be the obvious candidate to rub shoulders with two thousand crew members and cast of White Walkers on the set of the world's biggest TV show. But, to her surprise, that's exactly what happened. 'I got this mysterious e-mail from this guy who used to work at the Irish Film Board saying "HBO are going to call,"' she said. By her own admission, Finlay 'wasn't the biggest Game Of Thrones person,' although she knew that 'winter was coming' and who Jon Snow was. Nevertheless, she took the call and, about a month later, found herself meeting the show's producers in Los Angeles pitching her idea. 'They gave me enormous trust,' she said. 'Three weeks later they said "welcome to the family."' A fortnight after that, she was 'on a recce in a very windy quarry in Northern Ireland with the producers.' Embedded on the set, she would go on to chronicle the creation of the show's final series and what it takes to bring the world of Westeros to life. And, while millions around the world would watch the finished product, Finlay couldn't tell a soul about her top-secret assignment. Speaking on Mark Kermode's weekly podcast, Finlay said that she kept her involvement hidden from friends and family for fourteen months. But there was little danger of her revealing dreaded spoilers, as she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. 'It was such a secret - even the existence of the film was a secret,' she said. In scenes which could have come from other HBO dramas, the US network even installed a dedicated phone line at Finlay's office in Nottingham's Broadway Cinema. 'Three guys from HBO came over from New York, they got the road dug up, they put in a special secure line, we used code names and cut on encrypted material,' she said. 'We had to use code names for all of the actors because of spoilers. It is actually surreal to be able to talk about it. I'm so relieved the finale has gone out.' For Finlay, whose films, such as Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, tend to be fly-on-the-wall portraits of single subjects, the scale of Game Of Thrones' production was a shock. 'I'm a documentary maker so this was something else,' she said. 'It was just huge. It was four months before the cast turned up. They had dragons and ice lakes and a castle - a massive castle which can be shot from any angle. There are costumes which had acid-etched decoration, the level of detail is extraordinary.' In her documentary, The Last Watch, the filmmaker primarily focuses on the stories of eight members of the cast and crew, including Vladimír Furdík, who plays The Night King. 'He's the biggest, baddest, villain in Game Of Thrones, but he's the most adorable Czechoslovakian stuntman,' she said. Despite not being a fan going into the project, she fell in love with the Game Of Thrones world and even got her fifteen-year-old daughter a small part in the final episode as a wildling. 'Just the scale of it is so amazing which makes it terrifying as a job to do,' she said. 'The producer Chris Newman said, "You must never be intimidated by the feast, you can only eat the meal in front of you," so that's what we did, day by day.'
The documentary's most extraordinary moments were the footage of the cast's initial table read-through of the series eight scripts and, in particular, when Kit Harington discovered that the fate of his character, Jon Snow, was to stab his lover/auntie, Daenerys to death in the finale. And, Emilia Clarke's reaction to his - tearful - reaction! Almost as extraordinary was when the cast discovered exactly who gets to kill The Night King.
Another definite highlight of The Last Watch was the story of Andrew McClay, a regular extra on the series, often seen playing one of The North's foot soldiers in numerous episodes. Andrew's fan-like enthusiasm for his job and obvious love for the show itself seems to have made him an overnight Internet sensation with fans (as the following articles prove: here, here and here). Jeanie Finlay also gave Andrew the final words of The Last Watch and, in many ways, they were a perfect summation of the impact that Game Of Thrones has had on Andrew's native Northern Ireland. Following the conclusion of the series, Andrew found himself with a job as a tour guide on one of the several Game Of Thrones location tours currently running in the province. Amusingly, he explained to a bus load of fans that he had recently been asked by an American tourist if he could explain exactly how The Troubles began. 'The Troubles first started,' he noted earnestly, 'when Jaime Lannister pushed Bran Stark out of the window!' Top man, Andrew.
The final episode of Game Of Thrones was immediately followed in the US by the first trailer for the third series of HBO's other great cult hit, Westworld. Which looked stunning.
'My timing may be shit here but I, for one, am grateful that a disembodied Chumbawamba has brought us all back together!' From The North's current favourite TV show in the world (bar none), Doom Patrol, concluded its - extraordinary - first series this wek. With an episode that illustrated all of the many reasons why, in the words of the Comic Beat website, Doom Patrol is 'the best superhero show of the decade.' Ezekiel Patrol may be a decent candidate for the single most bizarre hour of television ever conceived. Including the final episode of Twin Peaks. And the final episode of Twin Peaks: The Return! The second half of the episode, in particular, simply defies description. As a result, the series wrapped up its first year doing what it has done best - combining absurdist humour, high-concept superhero storytelling and poignant character drama into one immensely strange but hugely satisfying concoction. Reviews of the episode - mostly, very positive - can be found herehere, here, here, here, here and here. Doom Patrol has not, yet, been renewed for a second series by the DC Universe streaming service - although showrunner Jeremy Carver reportedly has plans in place - but, it's hard to believe that any platform with a production as unique, as strange and as utterly brilliant as this don't realise just exactly what they've got on their hands. Don't drop this one, DC, or you may never find another one like it.
'Do you have any idea how much trouble we'rte in?' As previously noted for the last seven successive blogggerisationisms, dear blog reader, this blogger does not intend to review any episodes of the second series of From The North favourite Killing Eve - currently showing in the US - until the episodes become available in Britain (which has now been confirmed as sometime during the next month). For fear of spoilerising anyone who wishes not to be spoilerised. However, if - and only if - you aren't bothered about such spoilerisation malarkey then, spoilerising-type reviews of the really tasty series two finale - You're Mine - are available to spoilerise your very life today. At, for instance, the MEAWW website, The AV Club, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Rolling Stain, Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter. But, they all include spoilers so don't say you weren't warned.
'It is definitely not the first place you'd expect to encounter a terrifying monster. But Gloucester is where one of Doctor Who's most famous villains, the Judoon, is set to make a return,' states the BBC News website. Which is interesting since this blogger wasn't aware that the Judoon were, either, one of the series' 'most famous villains' or, indeed, particularly, 'terrifying.' They are a lot of fun, though, so it'll be nice to see them again. Jodie Whittaker is, the article states, currently involved in filming in places like the city's cathedral (as previously reported on this blog). 'The Judoon last major appearance was with David Tennant, as the tenth doctor, in the 2007 episode Smith & Jones,' the BBC states. 'But they have made several smaller cameos in episodes such as The Stolen Earth.' That line (and the word 'major' were, seemingly, added after the story had first gone live early on Wednesday morning and stated, boldly (and wrongly) that the Judoon had last appeared in Smith & Jones. Silent Witness and Doctor Foster actor Neil Stuke is among the guest cast set to appear in the new series. Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who's showrunner, said: 'No! Sho! Blo! The Judoon are storming back into Doctor Who in full force, and the streets of Gloucester aren't safe. If anyone has anything to hide, confess now. The Judoon are taking no prisoners, and will stop at nothing to fulfil their mission.'
National heartthrob David Tennant and his wife Georgia Moffett are expecting their fifth child (and, fourth together). The former Doctor Who actor and his missus - to whom he has been married to since 2011 - already have seventeen-year-old Ty, Olive aged eight, Wilfred aged six and Doris aged four, but they are set to expand the family later this year as David has announced Georgia is expecting once again. During an appearance on The Late Late Show With That Awful Corden Individual on Thursday night, host That Awful Corden Individual snitched: 'David, we were just talking backstage, this is blowing my mind. You have four children already, your oldest is seventeen. You just told me you and your wife, the lovely Georgia, are expecting your fifth child.' After the announcement received cheers from the audience, David - who adopted Georgia's son Ty in the same year that the couple married - admitted their growing family has become 'cause for concern' in their eldest son, who is now giving his parents 'lectures on birth control.' 'Five is a lot,' he added. 'What's really weird about it is we're now getting lectures on birth control from our seventeen-year-old son. And that's definitely meant to be the other way around. He's like "Come on, do I need to teach you the basics?" It's mental.'
Biggest TV shock of the week came in the final scene of the series finale of NCIS. Featuring the half-expected-but-still-rather-shocking return of a character viewers thought they'd seen the last of.
Star Trek fans have been left salivating and cumming all down their replica Starfleet uniforms following the release of a first trailer for the new Picard series, focusing on Patrick Stewart's beloved Next Generation captain. Stewart can be glimpsed in the trailer, with accompanying narration revealing that the character of Jean-Luc Picard is no longer part of Starfleet.
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is to adapt Ben Macintyre's book SAS: Rogue Heroes as a TV drama after Kudos optioned the book. Knight is writing the script for the adaptation with Endemol Shine UK. The story tells how the world's most renowned and ruthless special forces unit, the SAS, first came to exist. Knight has scored access to secret archives to tell the definitive account of SAS history. There is currently no broadcaster attached. The drama will bring to life the revolutionary thinking which led to the creation of a new form of combat and warfare. Celebrating the glory, action and camaraderie at the heart of this story, the series will delve into the psychology of the flawed, reckless but brave group of maverick officers and men who formed the SAS in the darkest days of WW2. Knight said 'This will be a secret history telling the story of exceptional soldiers who decided battles and won wars only to then disappear back into the shadows. We will shine a light on remarkable true events informed by the people who shaped them.'
Channel Four's SF drama Humans will not be returning for a fourth series, the show's creators have said. Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent released a statement saying that they are 'gutted' by the show's cancellation, but thanked broadcasters Channel Four and AMC for supporting them for the past twenty four episodes. 'Sadly there won't be a fourth season of Humans,' the writers and executive producers said. 'In this age of unprecedented choice and competition, we can have no complaints. Channel Four and AMC were the perfect partners. They supported the show brilliantly and - above all - let us make three seasons!' Humans was first broadcast on Channel Four in the UK in 2015, with two further series following in 2016 and 2018. The first two were really very good indeed, the third, not so much. The story starring Gemma Chan, Colin Morgan and Emily Berrington among others, followed life-like robots - synths - who work for humans as domestic servants. However, the balance of power soon tips when a small group of synths appear to gain consciousness. 'Humans will not be returning for another series,' a Channel Four spokesperson said. 'The show has had three successful series and has been much loved by fans. We are incredibly proud of Humans and the hugely talented creative team, in front of and behind the camera.' Brackley and Vincent thanked the cast and crew in their statement, saying that they never would have been recommissioned without their work. The writers ended their statement by calling out to anyone with 'a few million quid and an interest in AI stories' - including the tech entrepreneur Elon Musk - to 'get in touch.'
The UK's last-placed Eurovision Song Contest entry has had its - already pathetically low - score lowered even further by five points, organisers say. A revision of scores means that Michael Rice's 'Bigger Than Us' picked up only eleven points from Saturday's final rather than the initially-announced sixteen. The contest said that 'an incorrect calculation' had been used to create a 'substitute' set of points after the Belarusian jury was dismissed. The contest top four remained unchanged; Duncan Laurence from The Netherlands stays the winner with his song 'Arcade'. Rice originally secured sixteen points at the event in Tel Aviv - including but three from the public vote - and ending up in twenty sixth place. Or, last. After the revision of scores, the thirteen points he was awarded by the juries from the other participating countries dropped to but eight points. The Belarusian jury had been dismissed after their votes from the first semi-final were revealed, against the contest rules. The European Broadcasting Union said that it then created a 'substitute aggregated result' based on the results of other countries with similar voting records to determine the Belarusian jury scores for the final. However, 'due to a human error an incorrect aggregated result was used.' The human who err'd has, since, had his knackers kicked till he squealed and bubbled and begged for mercy and promised never to do it again. The EBU added that they and their partners 'deeply regret that this error was not identified earlier and will review the processes and controls in place to prevent this from happening again.' Rice told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme he was 'really proud of [his] performance. I enjoyed the whole experience, I was living the dream and I wouldn't change a thing,' he claimed. One or two people even believed him. 'It's just made me stronger. It built my confidence up - I'm back in the studio making my album, so there are things that came from this experience regardless of the result.' Asked if he thought it was time for Eurovision's use of judging panels to end, he said that it was 'not his decision to make.' But, he added that the UK team 'walked away with our head held high. It was an honour to represent the country.' And, fail miserably. Under the corrected vote, the winning song from The Netherlands secured an additional six points - finishing on four hundred and ninety eight points. Italy, Russia and Switzerland made up the top four, all gaining extra points. Norway was among the other countries to have been deducted points and fell from fifth to sixth place. Despite the UK result, Rice claimed that he had enjoyed taking part, adding: 'I'm so thankful to the fans as well as my whole team who have supported me throughout this whole amazing journey.'
Al-Jazeera has suspended two journalists after they published a video which suggested that Jews had 'exploited' their supposed control of media, financial and academic institutions to 'exaggerate' the extent of the Holocaust. Which, just to be clear about this, they didn't or anything even remotely like it. The clip, posted by the Qatari broadcaster's AJ+ social media service, described the deaths of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis as 'a narrative' that was 'adopted by the Zionist movement' and emphasised that Adolf Hitler also persecuted many other groups. Which is true - gypsies, homosexual, Communists, certain religious groups (notably Jehovah's Witnesses), the mentally ill and others - but what that has to do with the Nazi's sick - and openly-stated - anti-semitic persecution of Jews entirely escapes this blogger. The Nazi's were, in short, a right bunch of sick fuckers and lots of people have a damned good right to feel persecuted by them. The video was uploaded with the caption: 'The gas chambers killed millions of Jews ... So the story says. How true is the Holocaust and how did the Zionists benefit from it?' Images of the persecution of European Jews living under Nazi rule, as well as photographs of those killed, were overlaid with narration asking: 'Why is there a focus only on them?' Al-Jazeera said it had removed the clip: 'The video content and accompanying posts were swiftly deleted by AJ+ senior management from all AJ+ pages and accounts on social media, as it contravened the network's editorial standards.' The broadcaster is funded by the Qatari government as part of the Gulf country's soft power campaign around the world. The row will focus attention on the differences between al-Jazeera's English-language service aimed at audiences around the world and the Arabic-language channel, which often adopts a substantially different tone. The clip, which attracted hundreds of thousands of views before it was deleted, was posted by the youth-focused AJ+, which creates 'video explainers' designed to 'go viral' on social media. Its English-language videos often adopt a liberal stance on issues such as LGBT rights, racial inequality and religious freedom but there has been less scrutiny of the output of the Arabic-language videos created by AJ+. The video said that 'along with others, the Jews faced a policy of systematic persecution which culminated in The Final Solution.' But it went on to suggest that because of the Jewish community's 'access to financial resources [and] media institutions,' it was able to 'put a special spotlight' on the suffering of the Jews, suggesting the ideology of the Israeli state was 'influenced' by the Nazis. 'Al-Jazeera completely disowns the offensive content in question and reiterated that al-Jazeera would not tolerate such material,' said Yaser Bishr, the executive director of the digital division. He also called for staff to be given 'mandatory bias training.' Al-Jazeera is at the heart of the Middle Eastern proxy war between Qatar and its regional Gulf neighbours. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have been blockading their smaller neighbour since 2017, cutting off key air and land routes. Among other issues, Saudi Arabia has demanded Qatar cease funding al-Jazeera, which they believe is responsible for 'fomenting dissent' in other Arab countries by promoting challenges to established leaders. Al-Jazeera has previously been accused of promoting antisemitic tropes in its coverage.
Hilary Mantel's next novel will be published on 5 March 2020, her publishers have announced. The long-awaited book, the title of which was already known to be The Mirror & The Light, will complete the author's Thomas Cromwell trilogy. The first two novels - Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies - both won the Man Booker Prize. The date comes after a billboard advertisement on Tuesday hinted to fans that news about the novel's publication was imminent. The Mirror & The Light and will trace the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the man who rose from nowhere to climb to the heights of power as one of the top advisors to King Henry VIII. 'When I began work on my Thomas Cromwell books back in 2005, I had high hopes, but it took time to feel out the full scope of the material. I didn't know at first I would write a trilogy, but gradually I realised the richness and fascination of this extraordinary life,' said Mantel. 'Since then I have been on a long journey, with the good companionship of archivists, artists, booksellers, librarians, actors, producers and - most importantly - millions of readers through the world. I hope they will stay with me as we walk the last miles of Cromwell's life, ascending to unprecedented riches and honour and abruptly descending to the scaffold at Tower Hill. This book has been the greatest challenge of my writing life, and the most rewarding; I hope and trust my readers will find it has been worth the wait.' Tuesday's advert, which fans spotted had the font and the flower symbol similar to the styles of the first two book covers, appeared to have been replaced shortly after Waterstones drew attention to it on Twitter. In 2015, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies were adapted into a BAFTA and EMMY award-winning television series, Wolf Hall, starring Mark Rylance as Cromwell and Damian Lewis (He's 'Enery The Eighth, He Is, He Is). This blogger thought it was bloody great.
It was only published this week, but already the author Naomi Wolf has admitted an error at the heart of her latest book. Instead of being 'actually executed for sodomy' in 1859, as the writer claims in Outrages, Thomas Silver was, apparently, 'paroled two years after being convicted.' Silver, who was fourteen when he was convicted, is just one of several cases cited in the book but, according to the writer and broadcaster Matthew Sweet, the error stems from a 'simple misreading' of a historical record and raises wider questions about the argument Wolf puts forward. In Outrages, which was published by Virago, Wolf examines the effect of Nineteenth-Century legal changes on the lives of Victorian poets such as John Addington Symonds and argues that the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 'marked a turning point' in the treatment of gay people. 'People widely believe that the last executions for sodomy were in 1830,' Wolf told the Observer. 'But I read every Old Bailey record throughout the Nineteenth Century, so I know that not only did they continue; they got worse.' But, they didn't. According to Sweet, who first challenged Wolf on Radio 3's Arts & Ideas, her error concerning Silver stems from a misunderstanding of 'the very precise historical legal term, "death recorded", as evidence of execution, when in fact it indicates the opposite.' The historian Richard Ward agreed, adding that the term was 'a legal device' first introduced in 1823. 'It empowered the trial judge to abstain from formally pronouncing a sentence of death upon a capital convict in cases where the judge intended to recommend the offender for a pardon from the death sentence. In the vast majority (almost certainly all) of the cases marked "death recorded," the offender would not have been executed.' Wolf has 'committed a pretty basic error,' Ward added. 'If all the people who were mentioned in the Old Bailey records as "death recorded" were subsequently executed, there would have been a bloodbath on the gallows,' Ward said, 'yet anyone who has a basic knowledge of crime and justice in the Nineteenth Century would know that that wasn't the case.' While Wolf only quotes the 'death recorded' verdict in Silver's case, Sweet challenged the wider argument put forward in Outrages in his radio interview with her. 'I think her assumptions about "death recorded" have led her to the view that "dozens and dozens" of Victorian men were executed and that one of the main subjects of her book, the poet John Addington Symonds, grew up with the fear of execution hanging over his head. I have yet to see evidence that one man in Victorian Britain was executed for sodomy.' Wolf's argument that 1857 saw 'a brutal turn against consensual sex between men' runs counter to most scholars, Sweet continued, who suggest that it was only around 1885 that a less tolerant legal climate developed. 'She argues that historians have misread this moment and we should see that 1857 was a more significant date. I think she is wrong.' Wolf, to her credit, said that she 'appreciated' Sweet's 'important correction,' but rejected the idea that it 'challenged the main thrust' of her book. 'Outrages doesn't purport to be a comprehensive database of eventual sentences served for sodomy,' she explained. 'Its focus is on the reception of news about laws and sentences by a group of friends, as well as eventual arrests of friends of Symonds.' The book tells the story of how Symonds absorbed information about increasingly long sentences of hard labour and reports of death sentences in the national media, Wolf said. 'I don't think it takes many reports of a death sentence for a fourteen-year-old for sodomy, though later commuted, to really scare a nineteen-year-old gay man. This fear is the focus of my book.' Wolf says that she 'corrected the error right away and asked my publishers to include the correction in the book; and I thanked Doctor Sweet both one to one and in public.'
In what is probably the single funniest bit of news of the year so far, z-list celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has said that he is 'devastated' after his restaurant group went into administration, with one thousand jobs being lost. This blogger will clarify that statement; he does not, for a single second feel anything but sympathy for the staff who have lost their positions by this collapse. But he will be dead in a gutter, on fire, before he feels so much as an ounce of sympathy for that odious self-publicising full-of-his-own-importance prick Oliver. The group, which includes the Jamie's Italian chain, Barbecoa and Fifteen, has appointed KPMG as administrators. Twenty two of the twenty five restaurants in Oliver's restaurant group have now closed. Oliver, who put four million knicker cash into the business this year, said: 'I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected.' Two Jamie's Italian restaurants and Jamie Oliver's Diner at Gatwick Airport will continue to trade in the short term while the administrators 'explore options' for the outlets. 'The group had recently undertaken a process to secure additional investment into the business and, since the beginning of this year, Jamie Oliver has made available additional funds of four million pounds to support the fundraising,' said the administrators in a statement. 'However, with no suitable investment forthcoming and in light of the very difficult current trading environment, the directors resolved to appoint administrators.' Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay, which operates under a franchise, is unaffected. The international restaurants trading as Jamie's Italian, Jamie's Pizzeria and Jamie's Deli will also continue to trade as normal. In a statement Oliver added: 'I would also like to thank all the customers who have enjoyed and supported us over the last decade, it's been a real pleasure serving you. We launched Jamie's Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the UK High Street, with great value and much higher quality ingredients, best-in-class animal welfare standards and an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service. And we did exactly that.' Notices appeared in the windows of the twenty two branches which have already closed. The Unite union said that the development was 'a devastating blow' for the chain's 'hardworking and loyal workforce. Restaurants are not being helped by the current economic uncertainty, although those businesses like Jamie Oliver's that dashed for expansion in recent years seem particularly precarious. As ever, it is the workers at the restaurant and in the supply chain who bear the heavy cost of boardroom decisions.' The union also asked for 'assurances' that staff will be 'protected and paid all the money they're owed, including wages, holiday and redundancy.' The chain is the latest victim of a tough trading environment on the High Street. Earlier this year, cafe chain Patisserie Valerie fell into administration, and seventy outlets closed, with the loss of over nine hundred jobs, although ninety six shops were saved. Other mid-market chains that have struggled in recent years have included Byron Burger, Prezzo and Carluccio's. Oliver's business has faced difficulties over the past two years, with a number of Jamie's Italian and Barbecoa restaurants shutting. In 2017, he closed the last of his Union Jacks restaurants and also shut his magazine Jamie, which had been running for almost ten years. In December of that year the chef also put three million quid of his own money into his restaurant businesses. Simon Mydlowski, a partner at law firm Gordons and an expert in the hospitality industry, said that Jamie's had 'failed to keep up with changing trends. To be successful in this sector you have to be constantly evolving - from the menus and the drinks choice, to the way you engage with customers. Faced with higher rent, rising food prices and increased competition, restaurants need a point of difference - it's no coincidence that smaller brands with the freedom and flexibility to keep things fresh are currently the ones performing well.'
For seventeen years, astronomers at a well-known Australian radio telescope known as The Dish had not been able to work out the source of a strange, vexing interference. Now they have, reportedly, solved the mystery. And the culprit, it would seem, was right under their nose all the time rather than coming from a galaxy far, far away. Simon Johnston, the head of astrophysics at the CSIRO, the national science agency, told the Gruniad Morning Star that a couple of times a year signals known as 'perytons' were detected 'within five kilometres' of The Parkes Observatory in New South Wales. The first theory was that these 'perytons' were caused by local lightning strikes. On New Year's Day, the observatory installed a new receiver to monitor the interference and it detected strong signals at 2.4 GHz. Two point four gigahertz is the signature of a microwave oven. When scientists tested the facility's lunchroom microwave, no 'perytons' were found ... at least not at first. But, when the door of the microwave was opened while food was heating - as one might do to check on a reheated dish - 'perytons' spilled out like microwaved popcorn. Complicating matters was that The Dish only registered the 'perytons' when it was pointed at the microwave. Astronomers generally operate the telescope remotely, but several maintenance workers are on the site during daytime hours. Little did they know that reheating their coffee or whipping u a quick Pot Noodle created an enigma which would remain unsolved for almost two decades.
It is widely accepted that Pluto is hiding a liquid ocean, but why it hasn't frozen is a big mystery. Now it seems that gas trapped inside the bottom layer of its icy outer shell may be keeping it warm. The New Scientist reports that a number of observations point towards an underground ocean on Pluto, including deep cracks on its surface that seem to come from subsurface water freezing and expanding. But unlike other subsurface ocean worlds in our solar system, such as the ice moons Europa and Enceladus, Pluto is not stretched and warmed by the gravitational pull of a larger nearby object, meaning its ocean should be frozen. To solve this puzzle, scientists need to work out how Pluto is trapping the small amount of heat from the decay of radioactive elements in its rocky core. Francis Nimmo at the University of California, Santa Cruz and his colleagues have proposed that an extra layer between the ocean and the shell would do the trick. The layer would be made out of a material called a gas hydrate, which occurs when gas molecules get trapped between frozen water molecules. 'It's not bubbles, it's a little microscopic cage for keeping gas atoms in,' says Nimmo. 'It doesn't look very different from regular ice, but it's got all that gas in there.' Gas hydrates are much better insulators than water ice, so the researchers calculated that this extra layer could keep the ocean around and maintain the ice shell as we see it now. This may help explain why Pluto's tenuous atmosphere has lots of nitrogen but almost no methane - it's much easier for methane to get caught in a gas hydrate and kept underground. Maintaining a liquid ocean would be good for any potential life under the shell, but the layer of gas hydrates might not be, because it keeps the ice above it extremely cold, Nimmo says. 'If the ice above is really cold and stiff, that's going to make it much harder to get stuff from the surface down to the ocean and people often think that’s an important part to keeping life going,' he says.
One of rock and/or roll music's most famous injustices has finally been resolved. For the last twenty two years, The Verve haven't made a penny from their best known song, 'Bittersweet Symphony', after forfeiting the royalties to The Rolling Stones. The song was embroiled in a legal battle shortly after its release, after The Verve sampled an orchestral version of The Stones' song 'The Last Time' by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra. As a result, writer Richard Ashcroft had to sign over his publishing rights to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards - until now. Speaking as he received a lifetime achievement prize at the Ivor Novello Awards, Ashcroft announced: 'As of last month, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed over all their publishing for 'Bittersweet Symphony', which was a truly kind and magnanimous thing for them to do.' Ashcroft acknowledged that it was The Rolling Stones' late - and much loathed by pretty much everyone - manager, Allen Klein, who had been responsible for the situation, rather than the musicians themselves. 'I never had a personal beef with The Stones,' Richard told the BBC. 'They've always have been the greatest rock and roll band in the world.' He went on to thank Jagger and Richards for acknowledging he was responsible 'for this fucking masterpiece.' According to Rolling Stone magazine, the royalty dispute arose in 1997 when The Verve sought permission to sample a symphonic version of 'The Last Time', recorded in 1965 by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra. They agreed to license a five-note segment of the recording in exchange for fifty percent of the royalties, but Klein claimed that The Verve 'voided' the agreement by using a larger portion of the song than agreed. ABKCO Records, Klein's holding company, filed a plagiarism case, after which The Verve relinquished all of their royalties and publishing rights to ABKCO and the song credit reverted to Jagger and Richards. The situation rankled The Verve for years. 'We were told it was going to be a fifty/fifty split,' recalled bassist Simon Jones. 'Then they saw how well the record was doing they rung up and said, "We want one hundred percent or take it out of the shops, you don't have much choice."' The bitterest pill came when the song was nominated for a best song Grammy - with Jagger and Richards' names on the ballot instead of Ashcroft's. Asked in 1999 if he believed The Verve had been treated fairly, Richards replied: 'I'm out of whack here, this is serious lawyer [stuff].' Ashcroft told the BBC that the dispute came to an end following negotiations with Klein's son and The Rolling Stones current manager Joyce Smith. 'It's been a fantastic development,' he said. 'It's life-affirming in a way.' One unexpected benefit is that the singer can enjoy international football again. 'They play ['Bittersweet Symphony'] before England play. So I can sit back and watch England and finally just enjoy the moment.'
Spillers Records, the world's oldest independent record shop, has reportedly banned Morrissey records from sale. Because, he's turned into a truly vile and odious individual over the last few years and most of his former fans now shiver at the very mention of his name. The shop in Cardiff made the decision due to Morrissey's public support for the far-right political party For Britain, including wearing a badge with the party's logo when performing on a US talk show this month. 'I'm saddened but ultimately not surprised that Spillers is unable to stock Morrissey's releases any longer,' said the shop's owner, Ashli Todd. 'I only wished I'd done it sooner.' Morrissey is preparing to release his latest solo CD this week, with covers including songs by Joni Mitchell, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, performed with guests featuring members of Green Day, Grizzly Bear and Broken Social Scene. All of whom ought to be sodding-well ashamed of themselves for associating with such a politically wretched individual. And, seemingly, at least one of them is. Anne Marie Waters, leader of For Britain, has described Islam as 'evil' and as 'a culture that does not fit with ours.' Waters thanked Morrissey this week for 'raising the profile' of the party. 'I can tell you that the traffic to our website exploded with the story breaking of you wearing the For Britain button badge,' she said. 'I hope to meet you one day.' The former Smiths frontman - who used to be a fascinating and humane man albeit one who always deliberately courted controversy - has become an increasingly sad figure in recent years for his support for the far-right. He voiced support for EDL founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon in the wake of his sentencing for contempt of court. He described halal meat preparation as 'evil' and 'requires certification that can only be given by supporters of Isis'; he told the NME in 2007 that 'the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears; the gates of England are flooded. The country's been thrown away' and, in 2010, described Chinese people as 'a sub-species.' Plus, far more importantly, he stopped making good records sometime shortly after his partnership with Johnny Marr ended in 1987. Later in the week came the news that posters promoting Morrissey's latest CD had been removed from railway stations on Merseyside after a commuter complained that Morrissey was a disgraceful old stinker and thou shalt not suffer him to live. Or something.
Geoffrey Rush has been awarded the largest ever defamation payout to a single person in Australia. The Oscar-winning actor was last month awarded 2.9 million Australian dollars after winning the case against Nationwide News, which publishes Australia's Daily Torygraph. The Sydney newspaper had published stories accusing Rush of 'behaving inappropriately' towards former co-star Eryn Jean Norvill. Judge Michael Wigney found that Norvill was 'prone to exaggeration.' Rush has sought an injunction to prevent the Torygraph re-publishing accusations at the heart of the case. Nationwide News has appealed against an initial ruling in the case. The accusations detailed in the Torygraph article. King Leer, date back to a 2015 theatre production of King Lear in which Rush acted alongside Norvill. Rush was awarded eight hundred and fifty thousand bucks in 'general and aggravated damages' plus more than a million dollars for 'past economic loss,' nine hundred and nineteen thousand six hundred and seventy eight dollars in 'future economic loss' and forty two thousand dollars in 'interest,' the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. He was originally seeking more than twenty five million dollars in damages. The judge called the reporting 'a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of ... the very worst kind,' the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Rush's barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, said that the Torygraph had shown 'a complete lack of impartiality and lack of commercial sense.' Tom Blackburn, barrister for the newspaper, claimed that Rush was 'trying to shut down any criticism of the judgment' and that the injunction on re-publishing allegations could have 'a chilling effect' on coverage of the Me Too movement. Actress Yael Stone also accused Rush of 'behaving inappropriately' towards her, an allegation which he strenuously denies. The Torygraph had pushed to have Stone's allegations admitted as evidence, however the judge blocked the move on the grounds it could have led to prejudice against Rush. Rebel Wilson was awarded a 4.7 million Australian dollars payout last year, but that sum was subsequently reduced to six hundred thousand dollars on appeal. She had sued magazine publisher Bauer Media over articles that she claimed had wrongly portrayed her as 'a serial liar' and won a bowel-shatteringly large amount of coin. But an appeals court later found that, whilst Wilson had been seriously libelled, 'there was no basis in the evidence for making any award of damages for economic loss.'
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein and his former studio's board members have 'reached a tentative deal' with some of the many, many women who accuse him of sexual misconduct, US media report. Lawyers said that the settlement to resolve civil lawsuits and compensate alleged victims was worth about forty four million bucks. Weinstein denies sexually harassing or abusing over seventy five women. So what, you may be wondering, is he paying over forty million dollar for, in that case? A question, perhaps, best left for another day. He will extremely stand trial in New York in June on criminal charges brought by two women, including rape. Adam Harris, a lawyer for the studio co-founder Bob Weinstein told a judge that 'an economic agreement in principle' had been reached, the Associated Press news agency reports. He added: 'I personally am very optimistic.' Weinstein's team later told the Wall Street Journal that the size of the settlement would be approximately forty four million dollars. Actress Ashley Judd, one of the first women to come forward, tweeted that her separate legal case against Weinstein was 'ongoing' and that she intended to take him to trial. The sixty seven-year-old Weistein is (or, rather, used to be) one of Hollywood's most famous producers and worked on a number of award-winning films, including Shakespeare In Love, The King's Speech and The Artist. In total, the films he worked on have generated over eighty one Oscars since 1999 and founded the Miramax entertainment company in the 1970s, which initially focused on art-house films. In 2005, he split from Miramax and founded Weinstein Co, alongside his brother. In 2017, Quartz reported that Weinstein had become so powerful in Hollywood that he had 'been thanked as many times as God' in Oscar acceptance speeches. In October 2017, the New York Times published a story detailing decades of allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein. Actresses Rose McGowan and Judd were among the first women to come forward. The accusations included forcing women to massage him and watch him naked. He also allegedly promised to help some women advance their careers in return for sexual favours. The film producer issued an apology acknowledging that he had 'caused a lot of pain' - but denied allegations that he 'harassed' female employees over nearly three decades. The outcry against Weinstein led to the Me Too movement, which has seen hundreds of women accusing high-profile men in business, government and entertainment of sexual abuse and harassment. As the accusations mounted, Weinstein Co dismissed Weinstein and filed for bankruptcy. The forty four million dollar sum would be divvied among a number of accusers, their attorneys and attorneys for some of the defendants. The accusers, their lawyers, as well as former Weinstein Company employers and creditors would have thirty million dollars split among them, according to US media reports. The remaining fourteen million would be allocated for the legal fees of Weinstein's associates, including former board members of his production company who were named as defendants in lawsuits. The names of the women involved in the settlement have not been released. The objective of the deal is to reach a global settlement of all civil suits filed against Weinstein in the US, UK and Canada, the Wall Street Journal reported. Some of the plaintiffs involved in the deal have balked at the settlement amount, potentially undermining the deal, Variety reported. Mediation is expected to continue next week. So far, there have reportedly been more than eleven separate mediation sessions between the parties, amounting to about one hundred and thirty three hours. A 15 May court filing described the process as 'highly adversarial.' The settlement is a civil matter so will have no bearing on the pending criminal cases against the former movie mogul. Weinstein is due to go on trial in New York on 3 June on five charges of sexually assaulting two women. He has pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of non-consensual The Sex. If found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life in The Big House.
That Awful Farage Individual had a milkshake thrown at him during a campaign walkabout in Newcastle earlier this week. No, dear blog reader, it was nothing to do with yer actual Keith Telly Topping; he was in Stately Telly Topping Manor at the time, cooking a very nice lamb tikka masala for us dinner, reading a copy of James Shapiro's excellent Contested Will, watching an old episode of Game Of Thrones and reflecting on the inherently ludicrous nature of existence. It's called multi-tasking dear blog reader, you ought to try it some time. As alibis go, that one's pretty solid one this blogger is sure both you and, indeed, Dirty Babylon will agree. That said, never in all his born-days has this blogger been prouder of the people of the fair city in which he was born and has sent his life. The Brexit Party leader had just given a short speech in Central Newcastle as part of a tour of the country ahead of the European erections. A man was pinched by The Fuzz and was later seen in handcuffs having his collar well and truly felt. Paul Crowther, from Throckley, said that it was a £5.25 Five Guys banana and salted caramel milkshake. The daft plank, all he had to do was to walk fifty yards up Northumberland Street to McDonalds and he could have got one much cheaper. That Awful Farage Individual was campaigning in the North East ahead of polling day on Thursday. A Northumbria Fuzz spokesperson said: 'A thirty two-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of common assault and remains in police custody.' Yes, dear, everybody saw. And, they also saw that you let him talk to reporters before you dragged him off to Market Street nick. Presumably, That Awful Farage Individual will be having a good whinge about 'police bias' over that. Crowther told the assembled press: 'I didn't know [That Awful Farage Individual] was in town, I thought this is my only chance. It's a right of protest against people like him. The bile and the racism he spouts out in this country is far more damaging than a bit of milkshake to his front.' Standing in handcuffs outside Waterstones, Crowther claimed he did not regret his actions. He denied an allegation that someone was cut during the incident, saying he only threw liquid on the politician. Of his milkshake, he added: 'I was quite looking forward to it, but I think it went on a better purpose.' That Awful Farage Individual was the the latest victim of a protest which has seen other European erection candidates such as UKiP's Carl Benjamin and ex-English Defence League leader - and convicted criminal - Stephen Yaxley-Lennon suffer similar attacks in which the boys all brought their milkshakes to the yard. That Awful Farage Individual was heard to comment 'complete failure ... I could have spotted that a mile off' and demand 'how did you not stop that?' as he was ushered away by his security staff after getting covered in milkshake. One of his team was also heard to mutter 'sorry' as That Awful Farage Individual was walked to his taxi and then driven away from the event, by the city's Grey's Monument, at high speed.
That bastion of always truthful and accurate reportage, the Sun, has claimed that Mike Ashley 'has agreed' to sell this blogger's beloved (though, until now unsellable) Newcastle United for three hundred and fifty million knicker. To someone whom the Sun stated was 'the cousin of Sheikh Yer Man City's Arab owner, Sheikh Mansour.' Doubt has since been cast on any family relationship between the two men. Justin Allen's article claims that 'contracts have been signed and submitted to the Premier League' between Ashley and the Dubai-based billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan. He is described as 'a senior member of the Abu Dhabi royal family' and, last year, failed in a two billion smackers takeover of Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. The Magpies have been subject of previous, but unsuccessful, takeover attempts from the likes of Amanda Staveley and Peter Kenyon. But, the Sun alleges - with, it should be noted, absolutely no supporting evidence - that Ashley 'has now decided to end his twelve years in control on Tyneside.' One of the Sheikh's first jobs, the Sun adds, will be to tie down manager Rafa Benitez to a new contract, with talks between Rafa The Gaffer and Ashley's people having dragged on far longer than was expected. Sheikh Khaled, the Sun claims, 'is ready to provide funds to bolster a limited squad that has done well to stay in the Premier League after years of under-investment under Ashley.' Ashley first put the club up for sale in 2008 after then manager Kevin Keegan walked out after a bust-up about transfers - which was the first of three occasions (that we know about) Ashley has tried to get rid of the club. The Newcastle owner allegedly missed the chance to potentially sell The Magpies to Sheikh Mansour after refusing to meet him in 2008 before he took over at Sheikh Yer Man City. 'It appears Ashley is not allowing lightning to strike twice now with his cousin's group,' the Sun suggest. Sheikh Khaled, aged sixty one, is president of the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation but has always had a keen interest in football and, the Sun claims, 'loves the Premier League.' He is founder of the Bin Zayed Group - a leading group of businesses with diverse interests in the local and international markets. Newcastle fans are desperate for success having not won a major trophy since the Fairs Cup in 1969. Ashley has had a toxic relationship with the fans and angered them not just with his lack of funds for new signings but when renaming St James' Park, the Sports Direct Stadium, after his sportswear company. Both the Shields Gazette and the Daily Scum Mail - two other media outlets that this blogger would trust about as far as he can comfortably spit - also cover the story, citing alleged (though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious) alleged 'sources' allegedly 'close' to the Sheikh as allegedly confirming the deal has been 'concluded.' As for whether this story is true or not this blogger would like all dear blog readers to make a sentence from the following words: 'See it', 'believe it', when I' and 'I'll'. Indeed, it didn't take very long on Monday morning before both the Evening Chronicle and the Daily Torygraph were busy pouring cold water on the hot coals of rampant speculation. Although the idea of The Toon's matches against Sheikh Yer Man City at St James' and The Etihad next season becoming, effectively, 'the Abu Dhabi-derby' is, admittedly, an amusing conceit. Time will tell, dear blog reader. It usually does.
Plans to expand the 2022 World Cup to forty eight teams have been abandoned by FIFA. President Gianni Infantino said last year that the expansion from thirty two teams could be brought forward from 2026 to the 2022 tournament in Qatar. The change would have required Qatar to share hosting duties with other countries in the region. World football's governing body claimed that after 'a thorough and comprehensive consultation process' the change 'could not be made now.' FIFA also said that it explored the possibility of Qatar hosting a forty eight-team tournament on its own but has decided not to pursue those plans as there was 'not enough time for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact.' In a statement, Qatari World Cup organisers said: 'Qatar had always been open to the idea of an expanded tournament in 2022 had a viable operating model been found and had all parties concluded that an expanded forty eight-team edition was in the best interest of football and Qatar as the host nation. With just three-and-a-half years to go until kick-off, Qatar remains as committed as ever to ensuring the thirty two-team World Cup in 2022 is one of the best tournaments ever and one that makes the entire Arab world proud.' In November, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said adding sixteen teams to Qatar 2022 could create 'many problems' and described the idea as 'quite unrealistic.' Those close to the Qatar 2022 organisers say that this is 'a mutual decision' which 'realigns' them and FIFA and that they are now concentrating on delivering the best possible thirty two-team World Cup. But it will also have come as a major relief to the hosts, who no longer have to worry about sharing football's showpiece event. Perhaps with the Nobel Peace Prize in mind, Infantino had pushed for an expansion against Qatar's wishes, hoping it may help heal diplomatic tensions in the region by staging some games in other countries, but he has now had to admit defeat. With Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain all maintaining a blockade of neighbouring Qatar, such an audacious move was never realistically going to be straightforward. The crisis left only Kuwait and Oman as potential co-hosts, but a FIFA study concluded that neither would meet all logistical requirements. Infantino has previously collaborated with Saudi Arabia when proposing a revamped Club World Cup and many suspected this was linked to his suggestion that the country could be part of the solution for an expanded 2022 tournament. But, given the condemnation that followed the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country's consulate in Istanbul last year, along with its role in Yemen's bloody civil war, such a step would have sparked a major backlash from human rights campaigners, as it would have done if the UAE had been awarded games. So, while some national football associations and Infantino will no doubt be disappointed at the news, many others will welcome it. Why does FIFA want to expand the World Cup, you may be wondering. Greed, basically. In January 2017, FIFA voted unanimously in favour of increasing the World Cup to forty eight teams for the 2026 event - which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In October 2018 Infantino said 'we have to see if it is possible' to bring the expansion forward to 2022. Infantino has been a strong advocate of the expansion and said the World Cup has to be 'more inclusive.' And, more profitable, obviously. 'We are in the Twenty First Century and we have to shape the World Cup of the Twenty First Century,' he said when announcing the change. 'It is the future. Football is more than just Europe and South America, football is global.' The expansion in 2026 will see an initial stage of sixteen groups of three teams precede a knockout stage for the remaining thirty two. The number of tournament matches will rise to eighty, from sixty four, but the eventual winners will still play only seven games. The tournament will be completed within thirty two days - a measure to appease powerful European clubs, who objected to reform because of a crowded international schedule.
Tranmere Rovers earned a spot in League One thanks to Connor Jennings' last-gasp extra-time layoff winner against ten-man Newport County at Wembley. Jennings headed home Jake Caprice's cross to break the resistance of a Newport side who battled with great spirit despite a numerical disadvantage. An even contest swung decisively in Tranmere's favour when County captain Mark O'Brien was sent off for a second bookable offence in the eighty ninth minute. It compounded Newport's misery as Michael Flynn's side felt they were denied a clear penalty just moments earlier when Emmanuel Monthe appeared to foul Newport forward Jamille Matt. Rovers' win was their second play-off final success in as many years.
Charlton Not Very Athletic scored with virtually the last kick of the game as they recovered from conceding an extraordinary early own goal to beat Blunderland in the League One play-off final at Wembley and, as a consequence, condemn The Mackem Filth to another season in the third tier of English fitba. Which is, obviously, sad. Addicks defender Patrick Bauer had an initial header blocked from a cross, but was on hand to scramble home the rebound to take Charlton into the Championship after three years in League One. Early on, Charlton's centre-back Naby Sarr's powerful back-pass was completely missed by goalkeeper Dillon Phillips, who then watched helplessly as the ball roll into his net to give Blunderland the lead. But Lee Bowyer's side got a foothold in the game and levelled when Lyle Taylor put in a low cross for Ben Purrington to score at the back post. The game looked destined for extra time after a second half with no meaningful efforts on target, but a Charlton overload at the back post in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time gave Bauer two opportunities to score a dramatic winner. Defeat means that Blunderland, relegated in each of the past two seasons, are resigned to a second year in League One football at The Stadium Of Plight after a second Wembley final defeat in the space of but fifty six days.
A giant sausage was among items thrown into the disabled section at Old Trafford by West Hamsters United fans during the Premier League game on 13 April. The Scum have 'experienced problems' protecting supporters in that area of the ground, particularly against Paris St-Germain in February. Fans ripped the netting, designed to stop missiles entering the area, during their Champions League visit. Talks are currently ongoing in order to 'find a long-term solution to the problem.' The disabled section at Old Trafford is situated directly below the away fans' section in the South East corner of the stadium and at a recent fans' forum, a Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association representative highlighted the scale of the issue. They said: 'The West Ham game resulted in a number of missiles being thrown into the disabled section. These included plastic clubs filled with liquid, cigarette lighters and various items of food, including a giant sausage.' Also at the forum, The Scum revealed that, despite last season's disappointing sixth-place finish, they sold all fifty two thousand season tickets in record time and it is understood seventy five thousand people are on the club's season ticket waiting list.
Coventry City say they have a 'groundshare venue and agreement in place' for next season if they are unable to stay at The Ricoh Arena. A planned vote of English Football League clubs regarding Coventry's place in the league has now been cancelled. Coventry, owners Sisu and rugby union club Wasps - who own The Ricoh - are currently 'in talks' over The Sky Blues staying at the ground, which is Coventry's preferred option. But their ongoing legal case is causing problems with those negotiations. A groundshare agreement with Birmingham City has been widely reported but, when contacted by the BBC, Coventry 'would not confirm' that the deal could see them playing at St Andrew's next season because of 'a confidentiality agreement.' Earlier this month, League One City's owners whinged to the European Commission about the sale of the stadium to Wasps in 2014 - with Coventry later saying that the complaint is only against Coventry City Council and does not involve Wasps. However, that move prompted Wasps - who have asked Sisu to cease all legal proceedings surrounding the sale - to discontinue discussions with The Sky Blues over the continued use of the ground, stating 'the ball is back in the court' of Sisu. Although a rugby club using a tennis metaphor in relation to football some may regard as being a wee bit arch. Sisu claims The Ricoh was 'undervalued' by twenty eight million smackers and is asking the Commission to see if the deal breaks state-aid rules. Coventry said in a statement on Sunday: 'We understand the frustration that fans are feeling and have expressed to us, at not knowing where their club will be playing next season, not being able to plan for next season and supporting Mark Robins and the team and the time that this is taking.' The Sky Blues relocated from Highfield Road to The Ricoh Arena in 2005 but, following a dispute with the company that ran the stadium, spent the 2013-14 season groundsharing with Northampton Town before returning to The Ricoh in August 2014. EFL clubs were due to vote on Coventry's future on 29 May and they could, in theory, have been expelled from the league if they had been unable to agree a deal to stay at The Ricoh or found an alternative venue.
Gatesheed have been suspended from the National League and refused a licence for next season. The fifth-tier club have reportedly breached the league's rules on financial reporting and permitted loans, as well as defaulting on football creditors. At a disciplinary hearing The Heed were found very guilty of failing to obtain security of tenure over their ground. The club have also been fined three-and-a-half grand and docked nine points from this season meaning they drop from ninth to seventeenth. It is not yet clear how the league will be re-organised, although Gatesheed can appeal to the Football Association over the suspension. If the club appeal and are unsuccessful, they face the prospect of a drop of at least two divisions, with the sanction also applying to the National League North - the tier below. BBC Newcastle reports that a takeover of the club by supporters from owner Doctor Ranjan Varghese had been agreed this week, but is not yet complete. Varghese had said in March that he had agreed a deal to sell the club to former Rochdale chairman Chris Dunphy, but no further progress was made. In a season of turmoil off the field, Steve Watson resigned as manager in January to take over at York City, while his successor Ben Clark was sacked at the end of a campaign in which they finished ninth. They were also evicted from the International Stadium, which they lease from Gatesheed Council, although they were allowed to play out the season at their ground. The Heed currently have but one player left contracted, Scott Barrow, but he will leave when his deal expires next month. Players had seen their wages paid late and one member of staff claims that she was sacked by Doctor Varghese by text message. Fans group Gateshead Soul, who helped pay for food and transport for unpaid players, still hope they can rescue the club and run it on a fan-owned model.
Cove Rangers have become the SPFL's newest side and ended Berwick Rangers' sixty eight-year stay in Scotland's senior leagues by earning a League Two place. Leading four-nil following last week's first leg, Cove extended their aggregate advantage through Jamie Masson. Berwick's misery continued just on half-time as Ross Brown was dismissed for a foul on Mitch Megginson. And Jordon Brown and Paul McManus netted to give Highland League winners Cove a seven-nil aggregate win. Last year's beaten finalists become the first Highland League side to enter the Scottish Professional Football League since the new Pyramid and League Two play-offs were introduced in 2014. Berwick face relegation to the Lowland League, with their chairman in-waiting John Bell telling BBC Scotland before Saturday's second leg that the club were 'prepared for it but it's not a place we want to be.' Their relegation means that there will no longer be an English-based team in the Scottish Professional Football League next season.
Glasgow Celtic secured a historic treble of domestic trophies for the third consecutive season as Odsonne Edouard's two goals overcame Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Cup final. Neil Lennon has now led Celtic to a league and cup double after succeeding Brendan Rodgers mid-season and has been offered the manager's job permanently. His side overcame the setback of Ryan Edwards' second-half strike. Edouard equalised from the penalty spot before coolly hitting the winner. The Edinburgh side fought hard for an equaliser of their own in the closing stages, but Celtic stood firm to establish a new mark of triumph in the history of Scottish football. The final whistle brought an emotional response from Lennon on the touchline for a victory that also means Aberdeen qualify for the Europa League instead of Hearts having come fourth in the Premiership. His claim to the manager's role was based on his experience of leading the club to success during a previous spell, of being able to urge and cajole players to deliver the best of themselves during the uncertainty that followed Rodgers' departure for Leicester - and this cup victory was built on the resilience of his players.
Fußball-Club Bayern München clinched their twelfth domestic double by beating RB Leipzig three-nil in the German Cup final. Bayern went ahead through Robert Lewandowski's header before Kingsley Coman's brilliant control and shot made it two-nil in the second half. Lewandowski then added a late third with a deft chip over Peter Gulacsi. Bayern were crowned Bundesliga champions for the seventh successive season last Saturday. Leipzig, who started the better of the sides, did have chances at Berlin's Olympiastadion but an inspired Manuel Neuer stood in their way. The German international goalkeeper, who was making his first appearance since 14 April, was alert to tip Yussuf Poulsen's header onto the bar in the opening moments and he made a fine stop to deny Emil Forsberg early in the second half, too. But there were other chances for Bayern as Gulacsi saved well to keep out a swerving effort from Mats Hummels while Arjen Robben, who was making his final Bayern appearance, blasted over from close range. There was also a farewell outing for Franck Ribery who, like Robben, will leave Bayern this summer. But Rafinha, who is also parting ways with Bayern, was forced to watch on from the substitutes bench. Success in the DFB Pokal means Niko Kovac has led Bayern to a domestic double in his first season at the helm, one year on from beating them in the final when the Croatian managed Eintracht Frankfurt.
Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo scored as a valiant Valencia beat La Liga champions Barcelona to win the Copa del Rey. Ernesto Valverde's men said in the build-up that a win would help ease some of the pain of the Champions League loss to Liverpool Alabama YeeHaws, but they were sub-par again, in the Seville heat. French forward Gameiro fired in a superb strike to give Valencia the lead before Rodrigo headed in the second. Lionel Messi's seventy-third minute strike gave Barca hope but they fell short. After the match, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu backed Valverde to continue at the Nou Camp. 'I've always said that Ernesto has a contract for the next season, he's the coach,' he said. 'I do not think this defeat is the coach's fault.' Valverde said: 'When a coach loses you want to go again, to fight to overcome the next challenge. I know losing for this club is hard.' Temperatures reached North of thirty degrees inside Real Betis' packed Estadio Benito Villamarin, but only one side wilted. There was a sign of things to come when, in the eighth minute, Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet was lucky to escape being punished for a woeful pass. His ball along his own area was picked up by Rodrigo, but fortunately for the Frenchman his centre-back partner Gerard Pique was on hand to clear the Spain international's shot off the line.
Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini blamed a 'scandal' as his side were denied their first trophy since 1963 by Lazio in the Coppa Italia final. Marten De Roon's shot hit the hands of defender Bastos but no VAR decision was given, before Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa scored. 'Are we meant to only use VAR when it's handy? It was a penalty and a red card,' Gasperini whinged. 'This is a scandal! Tell me why it happened? Give me some justification.' The game was goalless when former Middlesbrough Smog Monsters midfielder De Roon's shot was deflected on to the post by the hands of Bastos - who had already been booked. Milinkovic-Savic came off the bench to head in the opener before Correa ran clear to wrap the game up in stoppage time. Lazio will now play in next season's Europa League. 'This is very serious,' Gasperini blubbed like a big girl. 'That was going into the goal, it was clearly deflected. This incident is absolutely worthy of a VAR review. It might not have been seen by the referee and, indeed, I didn't see it either, but the VAR? I want those officials in the booth to come here and explain to me what they saw. The only possible explanation is they had a blackout and couldn't see the screen. Either that or they just closed their eyes and looked the other way. Maybe we wouldn't have won anyway, but it's really ugly to see this. It's ugly. It shows no respect at all for the Atalanta supporters.' Third-placed Atalanta can still secure Champions League football for the first time if they win their last game - against Sassuolo, having recently drawn with The Shitty Hunchbacks to leapfrog both of the Milan clubs. But, their chance of silverware is gone for another year as Lazio edged an ill-tempered game littered with bookings. Seven-time winners Lazio last won the cup in 2013.
The New Saints have secured a position as one of the top sixteen seeds for next season's Champions League preliminary qualifying round draw. The Welsh League champions and double winners had their seeded position in next month's first qualifying round draw confirmed after Champions League finalists Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Stottingtot Hotshots finished the Premier League season inside the top four. Scott Ruscoe's Welsh double winners were top seeds for the first qualifying round during the season just ended out but lost to Macedonian outfit Shkendija. They will avoid the likes of Glasgow Celtic, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov. The draw takes place on 18 June. Which, obviously, led to dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions.
Gareth Bale's future as a Real Madrid player continues to be the subject of daily speculation. The Welshman has reportedly said that he is happy to stay, but the fans of Real have, reportedly, made their feelings on the matter pretty clear. This week Spanish newspaper AS conducted a vote where supporters could decide whether each player should stay or leave. The paper reports that almost five million fans took part and whilst Bale is by no means the only player they voted to show the door, the numbers are pretty damning: ninety one per cent said they want him - and his daft haircut - gone. Real Madrid have endured, by their standards, a disastrous season. They lost twelve league games and finished nineteen points behind champions Barcelona while their Champions League campaign was halted at the round of sixteen stage by Ajax Amsterdam. Bale appears to have borne the brunt of the fans' frustrations. In March he was jeered when he was substituted in the home defeat by Barca and in Real's final league match this season - a dismal defeat by Real Betis - he went straight down the tunnel without acknowledging the home support. Although the Madrid fans haven't resorted to their infamous show of disgust just yet - waving white handkerchiefs - this public poll is hardly going to make Bale's already frosty relationship with the Real faithful any better. But, according to Spanish radio station Radioestadio, Bale has told team-mates: 'I've got three years left on my contract. If they want me to go, they'll need to pay me fifteen million pounds per season. If not, I'll stay here. And if I have to play golf, I will.' He is not the only person in football to be told to leave by the supporters. Earlier this month Bale's former Wales boss Chris Coleman was, in rather more polite terms, told that his time was up with Hebei China Fortune. Coleman presided over a run of one win in nine games, prompting the fans to unfurl a banner which read: 'Hello Mister Coleman, please go home! You're fired!!!' In Chinese it added: 'Coleman, your mum wants you home for dinner.' The protest David Moyes was subjected to during his spell as The Scum's manager were also memorable. A banner with 'Wrong One - Moyes Out' printed in seven-foot high red lettering was flown above Old Trafford before United's home win over Aston Villains. Yet the response inside the stadium that day was, broadly, one of support. But these examples pale in comparison to what Arsene Wenger had to endure towards the end of his twenty two-year stint as The Arse's manager. As well as a weekly diatribe on the fans' YouTube channel AFTV and countless news stories on the subject, 'Wenger Out' signs and banners began popping up in the most unexpected places all over the world. A Jeremy Corbyn rally, a basketball match in Saudi Arabia, a protest for Lebanese engineers in Beirut, a Coldplay concert in Singapore, even WrestleMania in Florida were all used as platforms to promote the 'Wenger Out' message. If Bale is intent on seeing out the rest of his Real contract, with the majority of fans calling for his exit, protests could reach Wenger-level once more.
A French judge has charged the president of Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, with corruption over Qatari bids to host the world athletics championships. Judicial 'sources' quoted by AFP news agency said that the case focused on the championships held in 2017 and 2019. Khelaifi, who is also the owner of Qatari TV channel BeIn Sports, has been under investigation since March. Two payments totalling over two million quid, made in 2011, are under scrutiny. London won the bidding to host the championships in 2017, but Qatar is hosting this year's championships in September and October. It is alleged that the payments were made by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment to another firm run by the son of Lamine Diack, ex-president of the IAAF, the world athletics governing body. French prosecutors allege Khelaifi approved the payment, but his lawyers deny that he was either a director or a shareholder in 2011. They say he only had shares in the company between 2013 and 2016. Lamine Diack was charged with corruption in March in relation to the case, while an arrest warrant has been issued for his Senegal-based son, Papa Massata Diack. Lamine Diack was IAAF chief from 1999 to 2015. The French term 'mis en examen' - meaning 'charged' in English - does not automatically trigger a trial, but it means that prosecutors 'strongly suspect wrongdoing' and naughty nefarious malarkey afoot. In a statement Khelaifi's lawyers said that the allegations were 'inaccurate' and that he 'had not validated any payment of any kind whatsoever' in relation to the allegations. Another BeIn Sports executive, Yousef Al-Obaidly, is also under investigation in France over the awarding of the 2017 championships. He is a PSG board member. Obaidly, quoted by his lawyer, called the allegations 'utterly baseless and unsubstantiated' and said that he would contest them. In January, Khelaifi was elected to the executive committee of European football's governing body UEFA. They told the BBC UEFA is 'monitoring the situation.' In a statement, the IAAF said: 'We continue to be available to the French prosecutor to share any information that may assist the investigation. However, we have not seen the specific indictments referred to by the media. The dates published in the media appear to coincide with the bidding timetable for the 2017 IAAF World Championships which were awarded to London. The 2019 World Championships bid process began in February 2014 with a decision in November 2014. Our rights holder for the region was and still is, Abu Dhabi Media, who signed as a partner in January 2014.' A lawyer for Khelaifi denied any and all wrongdoing on the part of his client, saying that the Oryx payments were 'fully transparent. Nasser Al-Khelaifi was neither a shareholder, nor a director of Oryx in 2011. He did not intervene either directly or indirectly in the candidature of Doha,' he said. PSG won the French Ligue Un championship this season, but were knocked out of the Champions League by The Scum and lost the Coupe De France final to Rennes on penalties in April.
The artist behind a new statue of George Best has defended his depiction of the famous footballer, after it was criticised on social media. The main whinged was that it does not bear any resemblance to the Northern Ireland and The Scum striker. Many suggested it looks more like Pat Jennings, Best's former international teammate, who unveiled it. However, artist Tony Currie has claimed that it had the seal of approval from Best's family and that was what mattered. 'Everyone is entitled to their opinion,' he told the BBC. 'But anybody important to the statue, his family and his fans, they've all agreed that it's a good likeness and that's good enough for me.' The sculpture was unveiled at Belfast's Windsor Park on Wednesday. The whinging began not long afterwards. Currie said it had been his own idea to create a statue of one of Belfast's most famous sons. 'I thought, who is the best known figure in this wee country that hasn't had a statue put up of them? The first name that came into my head was Geordie Best. I tried to make a clay model of his head and showed it to friends and family and they all thought it was a good likeness,' he said. Currie then worked alongside a welder who welded a skeleton and built the clay on top. 'We were just doing it in our spare time and I funded it myself from the start,' he said. 'Towards the end we wanted to sound out if there was enough goodwill amongst the people of Belfast.' Currie put out a crowdfunding appeal and raised just over two grand. 'That helped a great deal buying the raw materials because bronze is expensive,' he said.
Lewis Hamilton held off Max Verstappen and survived a late collision with the Red Bull driver, to win a nail-biting Monaco Grand Prix. The world champion was left struggling with the tyres on his Mercedes after fitting softer rubber than the Dutchman at pit stops during an early safety-car period. Hamilton repeatedly whinged on his team radio that he was not going to be able to make the tyres last to the end but, by careful management, he did and held on to take his fourth win of 2019. Verstappen dropped from second to fourth in the results because of a five-second penalty, promoting Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to second and Merceces' Valtteri Bottas to third. Verstappen's punishment was for an unsafe release in the pits when all the leaders pitted on lap twelve as a safety car was deployed to clear up debris laid by Charles Leclerc's Ferrari. Although Mercedes' run of consecutive victories at the start of this season continued, their sequence of one-twos is over as a result of Bottas' bad luck. And Hamilton now holds a seventeen-point lead over his team-mate in the championship. Wearing a helmet painted in a design used by the late Niki Lauda, Hamilton was controlling the race, ahead of Bottas, Verstappen and Vettel, after converting his pole position into a lead a the first corner. But the race came to life when Leclerc suffered a puncture when he spun trying to pass Nico Hulkenberg's Renault for eleventh place on lap eight. Leclerc had been making up ground after Ferrari's farcical strategic error in qualifying on Saturday meant he failed to progress beyond the first session. The Monegasque driver had passed Romain Grosjean's Haas for twelfth place with a brave move at Rascasse on the previous lap. He tried the same on Hulkenberg but was just too far back. They rounded the corner together but Leclerc spun as he got on the power on the exit. He got going again losing only two places but his tyre began to deconstruct around the next lap and tore chunks out of his rear bodywork as he returned to the pits. When the safety car was deployed, Hamilton led the leaders into the pits, as Bottas backed up Verstappen and Vettel to give Mercedes time to service both cars. Red Bull pulled off a super-quick stop and released Verstappen into Bottas' path,and the two cars touched as the Finn was forced into the pit wall on the outside. It gave Verstappen second place on the road and caused Bottas a slow puncture which meant he had to stop again the next time around, losing a place to Vettel. But ultimately it cost him more than it gained him - and he was given two penalty points on his licence as well as the time penalty. Hamilton's problem was that Mercedes had fitted medium tyres to his car, while Verstappen and Vettel were given hards - which Bottas was also switched onto when he pitted for the second time. It meant that Hamilton had to do sixty six laps on a set of mediums, when they were only projected to last only around fifty. It is unclear why Mercedes chose the medium, and the decision gave Hamilton a tough afternoon, spent controlling his pace and fending off Verstappen. Passing is difficult at Monaco, but regardless it meant Hamilton could not afford to make a single mistake despite fading grip, which was no easy task. His concern was plain as he repeatedly whinged over the radio that he was not going to make it and would not be able to hold Verstappen off. At one point, he even said it was going to take 'a miracle"' to win it. In the end, with about ten laps to go, Mercedes' chief strategist James Vowles came on the radio and said: 'You can make it if you trust it.' Verstappen went for it at the chicane with two laps to go, but he was too far back and locked a wheel, and they touched as Hamilton came across him. Hamilton took to the escape road and carried on, as Verstappen complained: "'e just turned in. I was trying to overtake."' That was the last drama and Hamilton hung on for the remaining two laps.
A man who blew up his marital home while his ex-wife was downstairs has been very jailed for five years and four months. Ian and Elaine Clowes converted their home in Poole, Dorset, into two separate flats following their divorce. Clowes ignited a gas cylinder in October 2018 to stop his former wife from owning the whole building, Bournemouth Crown Court heard. He admitted arson reckless as to whether life was endangered. The explosion on Sterte Road on 22 October caused more than six hundred thousand knicker worth of damage, the court was told. Clowes, who was upstairs when the butane canister ignited, suffered severe burns in the blast and spent weeks in an induced coma. His wife was rescued uninjured from the rubble-filled downstairs bedroom by firefighters. Stuart Ellacott, prosecuting, said that a neighbouring house which sustained 'catastrophic' damage was uninsured. The court heard that firefighters found two canisters in Clowes' flat, with one 'still venting gas' after the valve had been opened. Clowes was heard to say, 'I don't want to be here any more - I just wanted to die,' as he was treated at the scene, Ellacott said. He added that the defendant had originally owned the whole building, but a court ordered his wife could take possession of the house after paying him sixty five grand. The explosion happened on the day the property was due to be transferred. Robert Grey, mitigating, said his client was 'remorseful' and the act was 'out of character.' He claimed Clowes 'did not remember anything' around the time of the explosion but accepted he must have released the valve. Passing sentence, Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said Clowes 'must have known' his wife was in the flat downstairs when he detonated the gas canister. He added: 'This case was motivated by a degree of malice - you did not want your wife to get the house.'
An Australian man has unearthed a 1.4 kilogram gold nugget with a metal detector while wandering Western Australia's gold fields according to reports. A shop in Kalgoorlie shared pictures of the rock online, estimated to be worth one hundred thousand Australian dollars. The unidentified man was 'an experienced local hobbyist,' shop owner Matt Cook, snitched to the BBC. Finds of this scale by prospectors are known to happen a few times a year, experts say. About three-quarters of the gold mined in Australia is produced in and around the Kalgoorlie region. Cook, who owns a shop selling supplies to gold prospectors, claimed that the man detected the piece on some saltbush flats, about eighteen inches below the surface. 'He walked into my shop and showed me the nugget in his hand with a big smile on my face,' Cook grassed. 'It just a bit bigger than a packet of smokes, and the density of it was incredible, so heavy.' Smaller traces of gold are more common finds in the region, says Professor Sam Spearing, director of the Western Australia School of Mines at Curtin University. 'Along with the mines around, a lot of people go around as prospectors on the weekend, as a hobby. Other people do it on a full-time basis,' Professor Spearing said. 'Most of the gold found is in the less than half an ounce category, but they do find them fairly frequently.'
A majority in Brazil's Supreme Court has voted in favour of making homophobia and transphobia crimes. Good for them. Six out of eleven judges voted to consider discrimination against gays and transgender people equivalent to racism. Which, obviously, roves that the other five are bigots and should, probably, be hoyed in jail themselves. The decision will give the community, which suffers constant attacks, real protection, activists say. At least one hundred and forty LGBT people have been killed in Brazil this year, according to rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia. The Catholic Church and the evangelical movement are frequently critical of gay rights and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, elected last year with strong support of conservative voters, is a self-described homophobic twat. 'Homophobic crimes are as alarming as physical violence,' Supreme Court Vice-President Luiz Fux said on his vote, citing 'epidemic levels of homophobic violence.' For almost twenty years there have been efforts to make homophobia a crime in Brazil, but legislation on the matter has faced resistance among conservative and religious groups in Congress. The decision at the Supreme Court means that offences are to be punished under the country's racism law until Congress approves specific legislation to protect LGBT people. The remaining judges will vote in a session scheduled for 5 June. Brazil has the world's biggest Catholic population but also a growing number of young, educated urban liberals who are eager to fight for gay and trans rights. The country legalised same-sex marriage in 2013 and LGBT couples have also been given the right to adopt. Last year, four hundred and twenty LGBT people were killed across Brazil, one of the most violent countries in the world, according to Grupo Gay da Bahia. Some activists have raised concerns over the possibility of a rise in crimes against gays and transgender people with the election of Bolsonaro, a deeply divisive figure who has also made racist and misogynist remarks in the past. In previous interviews, he has said that he would rather have a dead son than a homosexual son. Last month, he was heavily criticised for saying Brazil should not become 'a gay tourism paradise.'
A Florida man was arrested this week after a seventeen-year-old youth told deputies that the man spanked him with a belt then used a Taser on him because the spanking just made the teen laugh, according to local authorities. Waren Gibson, a fifty-year-old Land O' Lakes man, was very arrested on Monday evening and taken to the city jail on child abuse charges, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrest report. Gibson admitted to authorities that he had 'tried to discipline' the teenager on or around May 9 'by spanking him with the belt multiple times, first on his buttocks area,' the report said. But the teenager 'just laughed at him,' deputies said. Gibson said that he next 'used the Taser because the belt did not work,' according to the report. Deputies described the weapon as a 'cane' Taser. The teenager told deputies that the man 'used the Taser one time for two short seconds, on the inside of his left thigh, over his shorts,' according to the arrest report. Gibson claimed that neither form of punishment left a mark on the boy, according to the report and authorities said they 'did not observe any injuries on the victim at this time.'
A drug addict has been jailed for stealing men's pants worth almost three hundred knicker. 'Prolific thief' Sasha King reportedly plundered underwear from Matalan 'to feed her habit.' She has been sent to The Slammer for forty weeks, the latest in a long line of jail terms for shoplifting. King pleaded extremely guilty to theft of men's underwear worth two hundred and seventy two smackers on 13 May. She appeared before Plymouth magistrates to admit being in breach of a suspended prison sentence for theft. The bench ruled she had to go to jail because the suspended sentence had been imposed only days previously. Magistrates said that the offence was 'drugs-motivated,' with King planning to sell the underwear to support her addiction. King was jailed in December 2017 for taking eighteen vinyl records worth three hundred and seven two notes from Sainsbury's.
Although he was best remembered as Russell, one of two rebellious teenage brothers in Carla Lane's television sitcom series Butterflies (1978 to 1983), Andrew Hall, who died of cancer this week aged sixty five, had a wide-ranging career which took him from the Royal Court and the RSC to major tours around Britain and eighteen months in Mamma Mia! in the West End. He also founded a producing company with Tracey Childs whom he had met on Derek Nimmo's far Eastern tour of Ben Elton's Gasping in 2000. At the new Garrick Theatre in Lichfield, in 2009, Hall directed Childs as Martha in Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, with Matthew Kelly as George and, when the show was invited to come into the Trafalgar Studios in London - both of the lead performances were tremendous; Hall and Childs created their new company on an impulse to present it. Hall subsequently directed revivals of Ayckbourn's Haunting Julia (2011) and Diane Samuels' Kindertransport (2014), both toured extensively and garnered good reviews but he caused more of a stir when, in 2011, he appeared for six months in Coronation Street as Marc Selby, the transvestite lover of Audrey Roberts; their romantic cover was blown when he appeared as 'Marcia' in full drag in The Rovers Return. You could never guess what Hall would do next. He was temperamentally inquisitive, always busy and matured easily from the fresh-faced, skinny, bubble-haired lad of Butterflies - in which Wendy Craig dallied with adultery in her marriage to dentist and amateur lepidopterist Geoffrey Palmer - to the strikingly square-jawed and handsome lead actor in touring productions of Coward's Hay Fever, Michael Frayn's Noises Off and Ray Cooney's Out of Order. He never sat around if the work dried up. In a lean period in the 1990s he launched a company to develop fertility awareness, promoting a sympto-thermal method of family planning without contraception. And, for the last fifteen years he formed another, Media Assessment UK, which put high-powered candidates for jobs in the political and charitable sectors through their paces in mocked-up broadcasting studios. He was inquisitor-in-chief and wrote all the reports. This latter enterprise owed something to his father, James Hall, who was an IT specialist and executive search consultant. His mother, Mabel, also worked in IT and, later, adult education. Andrew was born in Manchester and the family were peripatetic in the area and the Midlands, before settling in Guildford, where Andrew attended the Royal Grammar school and played Romeo. He left school aged seventeen and took a job as a stagehand in the local theatre, the Yvonne Arnaud, before joining the Northcott Theatre in Exeter where, during Jane Howell's exciting tenure in the early 1970s, he was an assistant stage manager. He gained more precious experience as a stage manager for Glen Walford's Bubble Theatre and at the Royal Court, working on David Hare's Teeth 'n' Smiles (1975) starring Helen Mirren. He then trained as an actor at LAMDA. There he met Abigail Sharp, whom he married in 1977. Butterflies was his first job on graduating and he then joined the RSC for the 1984 to 1985 season in Stratford, Newcastle and the Barbican. He played Osric to Roger Rees's Hamlet, Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet and Flute in Sheila Hancock's small-scale touring version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He also appeared opposite Frances Barber in Pam Gems' Camille and directed the 'Not the RSC' company in John Fowles's The Collector, in an informal summer season at the Almeida Theatre in London. His television career after Butterflies was mainly a patchwork of appearances in almost every soap – Brookside, Casualty, Hollyoaks, EastEnders, Holby City, Judge John Deed – and he chipped in to the endless 1993 TV movie of Jilly Cooper's Riders, a very silly saga of show-jumping rivalry and The Sex in The Saddle. He was seen to better effect as the charismatic evangelist Billy Graham in Sky Arts' Nixon's The One (2013) starring Harry Shearer in the title role and David Frost as himself. His CV also included appearances in Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, 2point4 Children, Birds of A Feather, Children's Ward, Kelly Montieth and The Enigma Files. Blood Drive (2017) was an American science fiction series set in a dystopic future after 'the great fracking quakes,' with the LA police caught up in a death race in cars running on human blood. Hall was typecast as The Gentleman. His last movie, Kill Ben Lyk (2018), was a comedy murder thriller in which all the victims are called Ben Lyk and all surviving Ben Lyks are gathered together by Scotland Yard for their own safety. Andrew and Abigail made their home in Godalming, where, during another quiet period, he built a shepherd's hut. He is survived by Abigail and their two children, Joshua and Kate and by his mother, two grandchildren and his two sisters, Carolyn and Julie.
The first woman to read the news on BBC television has died at the age of ninety three. Nancy Wigginton, who was better known as Nan Winton, became the first female TV newsreader at the corporation in June 1960. Winton was an experienced journalist who had worked on Panorama and Town & Around before she joined the television news reading team. The retired television and radio broadcaster, who lived in Bridport, Dorset, died in hospital on 11 May. Although Winton was to be the first female BBC newsreader, Barbara Mandell had been a regular in TV news for ITN from 1955. News of the decision, dubbed by the BBC at the time as 'an experiment' but made, partly, in response to the challenge of commercial television, prompted much debate. Television bosses at the time believed Winton was serious enough to overcome prejudiced voices in the media that said women were 'too frivolous to be the bearers of grave news.' However, Winton's on-screen role was short lived after viewers deemed a woman reading the late news was 'not acceptable,' according to BBC audience research. Speaking in a BBC documentary about her career in 1997, Winton said that she 'didn't realise at the time what a revolutionary thing it was. I did realise everybody was getting very excited about it,' the broadcaster added. 'I didn't have any trouble from the press or the public. It was the editorial staff who were a bit dodgy.' Describing the then editorial staff as 'men in their middle years' who had come from Fleet Street, Winton recalled how the bosses were a 'bit ambivalent' about her. By October the same year, Winton had read the late bulletin seven times before she was taken off the Nine O'Clock News programme. Michael Peacock, a BBC television executive, called Winton in to his office and sacked her. 'He didn't say why and I was furious,' she recalled. There would not be a regular female newsreader until Angela Rippon joined the Nine O'Clock News presentation team in 1975. Winton, who was born in Portsmouth, went on to work for ITV before retiring. An inquest was opened into her death at Bournemouth Coroner's Court on 16 May. Fran Unsworth, the current BBC director of news and current affairs, paid tribute to Winton. 'At a time when we have a host of brilliant women who present, edit, film and report the BBC news, we should look back and pay tribute to trailblazers such as Nan, the first female newsreader on the BBC,' she said.
The actor Stephen Thorne has died at the age of eighty four. In the 1970s Stephen created three of the most memorable adversaries of The Doctor, characters whose influence endures in Doctor Who to this day. His towering presence and deep melodious voice were first witnessed in the well-remembered 1971 five-part story The Dæmons, where he both portrayed and voiced Azal, the last living Dæmon. Stephen returned to the series the following year playing Omega, the renegade Time Lord fighting the first three Doctors in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama series' tenth anniversary four-parter, a character that would return to confront The Doctor in later years. In 1976 Stephen appeared opposite Tom Baker playing the male form of Eldred, last of the Kastrians in the story The Hand Of Fear. Stephen was born in London in 1935. He trained as an actor at RADA and spent several seasons with the Old Vic Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and London, including a tour to Russia. He worked extensively in radio with over two thousand broadcasts for the BBC including playing Uncle Mort in several series of radio adaptations of Peter Tinniswood's stories. His television credits included roles in Z-Cars, Crossroads, Sexton Blake, Death Of An Expert Witness, David Copperfield, Between The Lines, Madison, Bird Of Prey, Maria Marten Or Murder In The Red Barn, Come Back Lucy, Take Three Girls and Last Of The Summer Wine. He gave many poetry readings on radio, television and tape and in venues from Westminster Abbey to various pubs. On radio he appeared as Aslan in The Magicians Nephew (reprising an earlier performance in a 1979 animated TV version of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe), as Treebeard in the Radio 4 adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings, as Lestrade in a lengthy series of Sherlock Holmes and also in an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards! in which he portrayed Fred Colon (and also Death). He recorded over three hundred unabridged audiobooks including children's stories which earned critical acclaim in both the UK and the US. Awards included a Talkies Award 1996 for Enigma by Robert Harris and several Golden Earphones Awards from Audiofile magazine. He is survived by his wife of sixty years, Barbara and their two sons, Simon and Crispian.
Niki Lauda, who died this week aged seventy, was a three-time Formula 1 world champion, non-executive chairman of the world champion Mercedes team and one of the biggest names in motorsport. He was also a pilot and successful businessman, who set up two airlines and continued to occasionally captain their planes into his late sixties. But, he will be remembered most for the remarkable bravery and resilience he showed in recovering from a terrible crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the fearsome Nurburgring.
Lauda - leading the World Championship, having won his first title a year earlier - suffered third-degree burns to his head and face which left him scarred for life, inhaled toxic gases that damaged his lungs and received the last rites whilst in hospital. Yet he returned to racing just forty days later - finishing fourth in the Italian Grand Prix. By the end of the race, his unhealed wounds had soaked his fireproof balaclava in blood. When he tried to remove the balaclava, he found it was stuck to his bandages and had to resort to ripping it off in one go. It was one of the bravest acts in the history of sport. At the time, Lauda played down his condition. Later, in his disarmingly frank autobiography, he admitted that he had been so scared he could hardly drive. 'I said, then and later, that I had conquered my fear quickly and cleanly,' Lauda wrote in To Hell And Back. 'That was a lie. But it would have been foolish to play into the hands of my rivals by confirming my weakness. At Monza, I was rigid with fear.' Lauda drove that weekend because he felt it was 'the best thing' for his physical and mental well-being. 'Lying in bed ruminating about The 'Ring would have finished me,' he said. The accident ended the notorious Nurburgring's time as a Formula 1 circuit. Lauda had been warning for some time that the circuit was too dangerous for F1. Its fourteen miles twisting through the Eifel mountains meant the emergency services were stretched too far, he said and any driver who had a serious crash was therefore at a disproportionately high risk in an era that was already extremely dangerous. What happened on 1 August 1976 proved him right. For unknown reasons, Lauda lost control at a flat-out kink before a corner called Bergwerk, hit an embankment and his car burst into flames. Trapped in the wreckage, but conscious, he was dragged clear by fellow drivers - but not before he had suffered severe injuries. Lauda carried the scars, including a mostly missing right ear, for the rest of his life and always had a matter-of-fact approach to his disfigurement. It didn't bother him, he said and if others felt differently, that was their problem. His injuries, in fact, were often the butt of his merciless wit. Once it was pointed out to him that, owing to the rule which says the original start of a race does not count if there is a restart, he had not officially taken part in the 1976 German Grand Prix. 'Oh yes,' he said, in his clipped tones. 'So what happened to my ear?'
The accident came at a time when Lauda appeared to be cruising to a second consecutive world title for Ferrari and his determination to return was founded in his desire to shore up a lead that was rapidly diminishing in his absence from competition, under assault from McLaren driver James Hunt. The compelling narrative of that season was effectively the kick-start for F1's current global popularity. The storyline had something for everyone - the ascetic Austrian racing driver-cum-engineer, renowned for his clinical approach and lack of emotions, driving for Ferrari; the handsome, playboy Englishman bon vivant for McLaren. Lauda's crash and awe-inspiring recovery only added to the frisson. By the final round in Japan, Lauda was only three points ahead and when race day brought torrential rain, he pulled out after two laps, saying it was too dangerous. Lauda admitted that he was 'panic-stricken' - feelings rooted in his crash - but, later, said that he regretted the decision. Ferrari remonstrated with him and tried to convince him to race, but he refused and Hunt took the third place he needed to win the title by one point. Their battle has been turned into a Hollywood film - Ron Howard's Rush - but it misrepresented them as enemies; in fact, Lauda and Hunt became close friends. So much so that they had next-door rooms that weekend in Japan and, on race morning, with Hunt in bed with a girlfriend, Lauda goose-stepped into the room and barked out: 'Today, I vin ze Vorld Championship.' It was unarguably the most dramatic, inspiring and fascinating part of Lauda's career, but his life was one lived in Technicolor and remarkable in its entirety. He was a singular personality, brusque and matter of fact, but with a wicked sense of humour and independent mind. After success in the lower categories, Lauda bought his way into F1 in 1971, against the wishes of his well-heeled family, by way of a bank loan secured against his life insurance policy and started his career with the March racing tea,. He needed a second loan to move to BRM two years later. It was a switch that made his career. He impressed team-mate Clay Regazzoni and, when the Swiss was signed by Ferrari for 1974, he recommended Lauda join him. The legendary Italian team had been in the doldrums in 1973, but were about to start a strong recovery under the management of the brilliant Luca di Montezemolo. In 1974, Lauda lost out on the title to McLaren's Emerson Fittipaldi only through inexperience, but that was the precursor to dominating in 1975 in the legendary Ferrari 312T. After narrowly missing out on the title in 1976, Lauda won again in 1977, despite falling out with Enzo Ferrari, whose lack of support following the Nurburgring crash fatally fractured their relationship. The atmosphere chilly, amid Lauda's fall-out with the owner and distaste for his new team-mate Carlos Reutemann, Lauda stayed at Ferrari only long enough to clinch the 1977 title and pulled out of the final two races, moving to Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham team for 1978. The Brabham was beautiful to look at, but its Alfa Romeo engine was uncompetitive and Lauda began to lose interest in racing. At the Canadian Grand Prix, the penultimate race of the 1979 season, he got out of his car part-way through a practice session and told Ecclestone he was retiring, saying he was 'bored of driving around in circles.' He returned to Austria to run his airline, Lauda Air, full-time. But just over two years later he was back in F1, tempted out of retirement by McLaren boss Ron Dennis, on a three million dollar salary - by far the largest in the sport at the time. Lauda won his third race back - in Long Beach, California - and, in 1984, the team were dominant with the new MP4/2, powered by a Porsche engine funded by McLaren's new backer TAG. Lauda was out-paced by new team-mate Alain Prost and won five races to Prost's seven, most as a result of the Frenchman's bad luck or retirement yet Lauda clinched the title by half-a-point, the closest margin in F1 history.
He stayed for one more year, 1985, when he was uncompetitive but still managed to win in the Netherlands - holding off a charge from Prost - before finally calling it a day for good, aged thirty six. Through both his periods in F1, his driving was characterised by elegant stylishness, all economy of effort and fluidity, which matched his belief it was the driver's job to work as hard as possible on the technical aspects of the car, to make it work for him. It was not spectacular, but it was certainly effective - as proved by Prost himself and Jackie Stewart, who shared a similar approach and won a further seven titles between them. The end of Lauda's driving career, though, did not mean the end of his links with F1. In 1993, Montezemolo offered him a consulting role at Ferrari, though that did not last long into the management of the team's new boss that year - Jean Todt, who went on to mastermind the dominant Michael Schumacher era. In 2001, Lauda took charge of the Ford-owned Jaguar team, only to be sacked at the end of 2002 along with seventy other key figures when the performance failed to improve. From then, he largely combined running his new airline Niki - founded in 2003, after the sale of Lauda Air to Austrian Airlines in 1999 - with an analyst's role on the German TV channel RTL's F1 coverage. But, in September 2012, he was appointed a non-executive director of the Mercedes F1 team, a decision made by the Mercedes board, who were unhappy at the team's lack of competitiveness under Ross Brawn and wanted Lauda as an effective spy in the camp. Along with Brawn, Lauda played a key role in the signing of Lewis Hamilton to replace Schumacher at the end of 2012. And in early 2013, he became a ten per cent shareholder in Mercedes, at the same time as Toto Wolff was appointed executive director. After that - as Mercedes dominated the sport in the era of turbo hybrid engines - Lauda attended races and acted as an adviser to Wolff and to the Mercedes board. In July 2018, he was diagnosed with a severe lung infection and had a double lung transplant. In November, he and the team posted a message on social media with a video of Lauda saying that he would be 'back at work soon.' But in January he was diagnosed with pneumonia and taken back into hospital in Vienna. Lauda is survived by his second wife Birgit, their twins Max and Mia - born in 2009, two sons from his first wife, Marlene Knaus - Mathias and Lukas and a son, Christoph, born from a third relationship.
Did you know, dear blog reader, that 22 March was International Mime Day? What a great pity it is that we all missed it ...
If only someone had, you know, said something.
This blogger had a very enjoyable morning on Thursday shopping in town. Unfortunately, it ended with him discovering, whilst on the bus back to Stately Telly Topping Manor, that Keith Telly Topping's best pair of shoes are now his former best pair of shoes, due to one of them having a hole poked though it. That took the shine off the day, somewhat! This blogger went to a shoe repairer; a sign said 'By Royal Appointment.' Keith Telly Topping asked if they really did the Royal Family's shoe repairs at this particular shop and the proprietor replied: 'No, but I once shouted "Cobblers To The Queen" when she drove past.' True story, dear blog reader. Sadly, the shoes were unrepairable. They're good shoes but the bottoms are made of very thin rubber so it looks like they're headed for the bin. Which is sad, really, because shoes have soles too. What? What?
This little gem was spotted on the Qi Twitter page earlier this week. This blogger has no idea if this claim is true or not but, it deserves to be!
And finally, dear blog reader, it would appear that someone at the Independent already had a text prepared for the moment when soon-to-be-former Prime Minister May announced the inevitable. But, that when that moment finally came on Friday, they forgot to actually fill in the date. You had one job to do, mate ... (Mind you, to be scrupulously fair, this could have been posted at any stage during the last eighteen months and would still have been roughly accurate!)
This blogger doesn't often recommend think-pieces from the loathsome Gruniad Morning Star for your consumption, dear blog reader. Largely, because they're Middle Class hippy Communist bollocks. That said, Marina Hyde's opinion-piece in the wake of Mother Theresa's tearful, snivelling (and, long-overdue if satisfyingly humiliating) resignation Exit Theresa May. Stand By For A Summer Of Tory Fratricide And Country-Shafting is well worth a few moments of your time. If only for the following, paragraph: 'Like her cricketing hero Geoff Boycott and also Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, May has spent weeks refusing to be given out. Multiple final gambits included a speech this week in which she served up her same withdrawal agreement for consideration yet again. Unsurprisingly, even her supporters declined this shit sandwich, which they believe is distinguished by being the sort of shit sandwich where the bread is also made of shit.' And, additionally: 'No surprise to find [Gavin] Williamson there, of course, with the big question being how possible rival Michael Gove will play it after what we'll euphemise as "Last Time." Have to say the season two tension between these two is crackling. Last Time, you may recall, Johnson backer Jake Berry MP took to his secret diary (Twitter) to thunder of Gove "there is a very deep pit in Hell for those such as he." Another Johnson supporter judged that "Gove is a cunt who set this up from the start," while Ben Wallace MP disagreed with Gove's self-identification with Tyrion Lannister. "He is actually Theon Greyjoy," he stated, "or he] will be by the time I've finished with him." Expect much, much more of this – particularly the quintessential Tory phenomenon of complete basics explaining Game Of Thrones to you.'
'It's hard to not feel a bit sorry for Theresa May,' was a commonly heard soundbite in various parts of the media over weekend, usually from commentators who were trying, unsuccessfully, to stifle a snigger as they said it. Hard, perhaps, but certainly worth the effort, this blogger would suggest. There is, however, one thing which it is entirely legitimate to feel sorry for her over; the last few days in any job before you get the tin-tack are usually bad enough with only your leaving party to look forward to. May, sadly, has got to spend a decent amount of her last week in the job hanging out with President Rump. That's harsh.
Now, dear blog reader, it appears likely that we shall have a blonde in Downing Street. Oh, goody. Remember that old truism, 'be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.'