Saturday, July 27, 2019

What Madness Rules In Brainsick Men?

Amazon Prime Video has released the trailer for Star Trek: Picard, which is set to premiere in 2020. And, it looks really good. The series follows Jean-Luc Picard in the next chapter of his life after leaving Star Fleet. The drama series is being produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment and stars yer actual Sir Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Harry Treadaway, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera, Evan Evagora and Michelle Hurd. The trailer was unveiled over the weekend by CBS during the Star Trek Universe panel at San Diego Comic Con. At the panel, it was also announced that Star Trek veterans Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Jeri Ryan and Jonathan Del Arco would all guest star on Picard. You can even catch a glimpse of both Ryan and Spiner reprising their roles of Seven Of Nine and Data in the trailer.
There's a fascinating interview with Luke Jennings, the author of the novels on which From The North favourite Killing Eve is based, in the New York Post. In it, Jennings reveals how he 'ambushed' Phoebe Waller-Bridge after having seen her Edinburgh stage show with a view to her adapting his work. Which, in any other context, would be a really uncomfortable confession of a celebrity stalker. but it's okay here since it led to an offer of work.
Although one or two websites had already made the claim a couple of weeks ago, on the DC Universe panel at Comic Con's Indigo Ballroom, executive producer Jeremy Carver and series star Diane Guerrero (Crazy Jane) confirmed the very welcome news that From The North favourite Doom Patrol has been recomissioned for a second series. Doom Patrol will debut simultaneously on HBO Max and the DC Universe channel. The second series of the - presumably quite expensive - show got renewed, it has been claimed, because of a deal with WarnerMedia, who championed Doom Patrol's 'offbeat tone and eccentricities.' All fifteen episodes of first series will be made available upon HBO Max. Based largely on Grant Morrison's legendary forty odd issue run on the comic in the early 1990s, Doom Patrol finds a group of disparate non-heroes with tragic backstories living together in a mansion. Whilst they struggle to learn what it takes to be heroes, their mentor, The Chief (Timothy Dalton) goes missing and the former Nazi-doctor-turned-anti-matter-supervillain Mister Nobody (Alan Tudyk) leads them on a series of wild goose chases. The Patrol includes Crazy Jane, who has sixty four split personalities, each with a different superpower; Elasti-Girl, a former 1950s actress who gained the power to stretch and shrink after exposure to toxic swamp water; Negative Man, an ex-fighter pilot who crashed into negative energy and is now wrapped from head-to-toe in bandages and Robotman, a former NASCAR driver whose brain resides inside a metal body following a near-fatal crash. The Justice League's Cyborg also joined the team to prove he's not just a goody two-shoes rich kid wuss. Or something. The recommissioning confirmation came at more or less the same time of a forthcoming second series of Doom Patrol's sister series, Titans, was also announced along with the welcome views that Game Of Thrones' Iain Glen will play Bruce Wayne in it. Tasty.
From The North favourite Game Of Thrones is the most popular foreign television show among Russian viewers, the independent Levada Centre polling agency has claimed this week. According to the Moscow Times, 'recent Levada polling has said that Russians are increasingly spending their free time watching television and view it as a growing source of their happiness.' Plus, as a really good way to take their mind off four hour queues for bread, obviously. By the way, if any FSS operatives plan on dropping in on Stately Telly Topping Manor and delivering some deadly novichok, there's a possibility this blogger might be out at the time so just leave the poison in the blue recycling bin near the back door and this blogger will pick it up later. Thanks muchly. The medieval adult fantasy drama Game Of Thrones - with the tits and the dragons and the death on a large scale - earned the top spot with twenty seven per cent of Russian respondents naming it as their most favouritist foreign series from ze decadent capitalist West, according to Levada's results. Another still-popular From The North favourite Sherlock was placed second at twenty five per cent, followed by the US medical drama House with twenty four per cent. Yes, the irony of the fact that lots of Russians, seemingly, very much enjoy two television series - Game Of Thrones and Sherlock - which a highly vocal minority of whinging whingers in the West spend hours whinging about on the Interweb (that 'it's not as good as it used to be', basically) is, trust him, not lost on this blogger. And, nor should it be to you, dear blog reader. The highly-rated HBO mini-series Chernobyl and the mid-2000s drama Lost shared fourth spot with twenty two per cent each.
The clamour from disgruntled, whinging Game Of Thrones fans for a remake of the popular adult fantasy drama's final series has all been in vain, it would seem. HBO's programming chief, Casey Bloys, said on Wednesday there was 'no serious consideration' given to remaking the story which some whinging whingers (and whinging critics) have called 'disappointing' but which most of us thought was fine. No shit? Because, of course, HBO have millions of dollars to flush down the netty merely to satisfy the fan-fiction wet-dreams of a bunch of whinging numbskulls, don't they? The eighth and final series of the hit show, which ended in April, was met with frothy outrage by some viewers - not 'many' as one whinging Middle Class hippy Communist louse of no consequence at the Gruniad Morning Star who didn't even have the courage to put their name to the article claimed - who whinged about allegedly rushed episodes, implausible plot twists and an apparent disdain for characters of colour. Or, in other words, 'the lack of an ending in which Jon and Daenerys shared The Iron Throne and lived happily ever after with their many incestuously-bred children (and a few dragons).' The soft planks. A petition demanding - demanding, please note, not asking politely - that HBO remake the series 'with competent writers' posted on attracted more than 1.6 million signatures. Which does at least prove one thing - that there are one million six hundred thousand spoiled brats in the world who could do with a significant dose of reality forced, harshly, down their throats until they understand the concept. There are 'few downsides' to having a hugely popular show like Game Of Thrones, Bloys said, but one is that fans 'have strong opinions' on what would be a satisfying conclusion. And aren't shy of telling anyone that will listen (and, indeed, anyone that won't) all about it. Bloys said during a TV critics' meeting that it 'came with the territory,' adding that he 'appreciated' fans' passion for the saga based on George RR Martin's novels. Tragically, he did not use the opportunity to advise those who signed the petition it question to, you know, grow the fuck up. Something of an missed opportunity, one might suggest. EMMY voters seemingly proved unswayed by petitioners demanding a remake: they gave Game Of Thrones a record-breaking thirty two nominations earlier this month. The series also brought record viewership for the network, with the series finale becoming the most watched episode in HBO's history. HBO will, of course, want to keep fan fervour alive - the madder end of it, notwithstanding - for the prequel to Game Of Thrones in the works. The first episode completed filming in Ireland and the dailies 'look really good,' Bloys claimed. The planned series stars Naomi Watts and is set thousands of years before the original. Asked whether 'negative reaction' to the Game Of Thrones conclusion would 'shape' the prequel, Bloys replied: 'Not at all.' Though, he wanted to reply 'what do you think?' one imagines.
From The North favourite Peaky Blinders' creator Steven Knight has spoken about the 'chilling' resonance of the forthcoming fifth series' themes. The writer was speaking this week at the London premiere of the show's forthcoming fifth series, which is set in the late 1920s and sees Cillian Murphy's Tommy Shelby enter the realm of politics. And, go head-to-head with a rising star in his party, Baronet Oswald Ernald Mosley (Sam Claflin), who was a despicable old stinker and later the leader of the British Union of Fascists. You knew that, right? 'There's the rise of nationalism, populism, fascism and racism,' said Knight, 'the huge sweep across the world and you look at the world now and what I hope people might take from this is what was the consequence of when it happened last time? Nine years later there was a war. That's what happened before and there was this real movement of, "We must protect ourselves, foreigners are the enemy."' He added: 'People will find it staggering that the language, the phrases, the sentences used at the time are not just similar [to now] but the same, it's chilling.' More-or-less spoiler-free(ish) reviews of the opening episode have already appeared on the Digital Spy website and in the Radio Times. There is still no official word on when the new series will begin on BBC1.
Mind you, dear blog reader, the first released photo of Sam Claflin in character suggests that, rather than playing Baronet Oswald Ernald Mosley that might be a huge double-bluff and, actually, he's been cast as the keyboard player in Sparks. Because, this town ain't big enough for the both of them. Just a thought.
The recent announcement that a TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's acclaimed comic The Sandman has been commissioned by Netflix brought up the only half-remembered fact that Gaiman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt had previously worked on a film adaptation, but the project ultimately fell apart whilst still in pre-production. That was, of course, far from the first attempt to adapt Gaiman's revered comic either, following several abandoned movie and TV iterations developed in the 1990s and 2000s. Indeed, until now, most people - this blogger very much included - had come to the sad conclusion that such an adaptation could be, effectively, unfilmable. Launched in 1989, the original Sandman comic ran for seventy six issues and told the story of Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams and his siblings, The Endless. Gaiman's comics have long been celebrated for their gorgeously surreal visuals and rich blend of genres, literary influences, complex storytelling and brilliant characterisation. A film adaptation entered development in the mid-1990s, with Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary attached to direct from a script by future Pirates Of The Caribbean writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. That fell apart after Avary was dropped over 'creative differences' and subsequent attempts to develop a Sandman movie similarly failed to get off the ground (as did a proposed TV show by Eric Kripke in 2010). In 2013, Gordon-Levitt entered talks to direct and star in a movie adaptation. Jack Thorne was hired to write the script shortly after and Gaiman was actively involved in plotting the project's creative direction. Things seemed to be moving along steadily for the next two years, with production expected to begin in 2016. Instead, Gordon-Levitt left the project in March 2016 and the movie collapsed altogether by the end of that year. It has long been reported that Gordon-Levitt left The Sandman movie over, again, 'creative differences' with the Warner Brothers-owned New Line Cinema who own the rights. Gaiman had tweeted his public support for Gordon-Levitt after his departure, calling him 'smart, honest and really nice' and saying that he would 'gladly' work with the actor-filmmaker on another project. New Line had hired Eric Heisserer to work on The Sandman script just before Gordon-Levitt stepped down, but he too ended up leaving the project by the following November. In an interview at the time, Heisserer said that after having 'multiple conversations' with Gaiman he 'came to the conclusion that the best version of this property exists as an HBO series or limited series' and recommended that WB take it to TV instead. Whilst there may be more to the story than what has been revealed, it has been claimed - with, admittedly, no supporting evidence - that Gaiman and Gordon-Levitt did not see eye-to-eye on The Sandman movie. Gordon-Levitt frequently talked about making a film which 'honoured the spirit' of Gaiman's comics, but is said to have made some major changes to the story and narrative structure. A TV series - one with a fair bit of money behind it, obviously - always made far more sense for an adaptation, seeing as its layout is an inherently better match for the original comics' episodic formatting. Amazon has enjoyed success with a similarly long-form adaptation of Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens novel, as has Starz with American Gods (adapted from another of Gaiman's book) and FOX with Lucifer (a series based on The Sandman's version of the title character), before Netflix picked it up.
Speaking of Lucifer, last month Netflix and the production staff confirmed that the next series would be the show's last but were 'carefully planning to give it the send-off it deserved.' It now appears that Netflix have agreed to extend that initial ten episode run to sixteen episodes. Regulars Tom Ellis and Lauren Graham will be back for the fifth series which has, reportedly, just started filming for a 2020 release.
John Barrowman recently claimed that he had been discussing 'some very interesting ideas' with former Doctor Who showrunner Russell Davies. 'I can't remember what ceremony it was,' he told Radio Times, 'but I was speaking to [Davies] - he'd picked up an award for A Very English Scandal - and we said: "Wouldn't it be great if we could do a Torchwood or Doctor Who movie with [Captain] Jack, David [Tennant] and Billie [Piper]?' So, we can safely add that one to the - huge - list of Doctor Who related film projects which someone once thought were a 'really good idea' but which, ultimately, never got made? David Tennant's comment on this claim were, of course, predictable. But still funny.
Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves have been signed to appear in Us, BBC1's four-part drama based on David Nicholls' novel. Hollander will play Douglas Petersen, while Reeves has been cast as Connie. Us tells the story of Petersen, who is blindsided when his wife Connie tells him that she is not sure she wants to be married anymore. Agreeing to still go on their planned family holiday in Europe, Douglas vows to win back the love of his wife and repair his troubled relationship with their son, Albie. Rounding out the cast is Iain De Caestecker, Sofie Gråbøl, Tom Taylor and Thaddea Graham. 'It's a huge thrill to see the novel come to life, and with such a wonderful cast and production team,' said David Nicholls. 'We want to make something funny, touching and beautiful, to really explore marriage and family life, all against this incredible backdrop.' Production on the series is now underway. Filming will take place in London, Amsterdam, Venice, Barcelona and Paris.
Van Der Valk is returning to UK screens. ITV has acquired the reboot of the classic 1970s Thames crime drama after striking a deal with international distributor All3Media International. Three feature length episodes have been commissioned for the show's first series. This new version is -like the original - set in Amsterdam and follows an engaging, unapologetic and street-smart Dutch detective Piet Van Der Valk as he leads his dynamic team in solving a raft of mysterious crimes using astute human observation and inspired detection. Van Der Valk is being produced by Company Pictures and NL Film and stars Marc Warren in the title role originally played by the late Barry Foster, Maimie McCoy, Luke Allen-Gale, Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Darrell D’Silva, Emma Fielding, Kees Boot, Reinout Bussemaker, Frances Grey, Daniel Lapaine, Stephanie Leonidas, Mike Libanon and Vineeta Rishi. Chris Murray has written the scripts. 'It's thrilling to be recreating Van Der Valk, a contemporary detective series with attractive, intriguing characters, danger and humour - and a fantastic backdrop in Amsterdam,' said Company Pictures' Michelle Buck, who serves as an executive producer alongside Louise Pedersen and Sebastian Lückel. 'We are delighted to be working with All3Media International and ARD as commissioners and are very proud that, as we start filming, we already have further partners in place whilst still in production.'
ITV will not be penalised for Amanda Holden's bad naughty swearing during an episode of Britain's Got Toilets. And, Holden herself has, seemingly, avoided any punishment for her sweary foul-mouthed ways. The BGT judge shouted a strong swear word - 'fuck', if you were wondering - as she 'took part in an unsettling magic act' in May, prompting fifty six whinges to the media watchdog Ocfom that this was bad and naughty. As if anyone with half-a-frigging-brain in their skull actually gives a bollocks about such horseshit. Ofcom rules say that the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the 9pm watershed without exception. But, the regulator said that it would not be taking any action because the show was live and immediate apologies were given. And, because Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads wouldn't like it. 'We took into account that this was a live broadcast of an emotive performance involving Amanda Holden, which triggered her spontaneous reaction,' Ofcom weaselled. 'We also took into account that the judges, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell and the presenter, Ant McPartlin, gave a full apology on-air straight after the incident. In light of the above, Ofcom's view is that this matter is resolved.' Holden was visibly shaken when she was 'put through a spooky routine' by an act called The Haunting, in which she was 'contacted' by the 'ghost' of an eleven-year-old girl. The fact that ghosts, you know, don't exist, notwithstanding. After returning to the judges' desk, Holden said: 'I just really want to apologise if I said anything. I said a really terrible word.' She added: 'I know there are kids watching, I know my kids are watching, so massive apologies. I can honestly say I feel terrified.' Afterwards, McPartlin snivelled: 'We'd like to apologise if you heard any bad language there from Amanda. She was very, very scared as you could see.' Another two hundred and fourteen people whinged about the allegedly 'scary' nature of the routine, but Ofcom dismissed those whinges last month, saying that there had been 'strong, clear warnings.' And, that those who whinged should probably try growing up and, certainly, give watching something else a go. Meanwhile, Ofcom has dismissed more than one thousand whinges about Love Island from mid-June to mid-July. Most of them centred around the events of two episodes. Seven hundred people whinged about how Lucie (no, me neither) had been treated by the other female contestants and her partner Joe on the 16 June episode. 'While we understand some viewers were concerned for her well-being, we think most viewers would expect to see emotionally-charged scenes in a programme which shines a light on people's relationships,' an Ofcom statement said. 'We also took into account that the contestant received support from others, particularly following her partner's departure.' After the 25 June episode, two hundred and eighty eight viewers complained that Anna and Amber (no, me neither) bullied Danny and Arabella (no, me neither). 'We think most viewers would expect highly-charged, confrontational scenes as the contestants explore new friendships and relationships,' Ofcom said. 'In Ofcom's view, the scenes of emotional confrontation were likely to have been within audience expectations.'
The French army is to create a 'Red Team' of science-fiction writers to 'imagine possible future threats.' A new report by the Defence Innovation Agency said the visionaries will 'propose scenarios of disruption' that military strategists 'may not think of.' You know, like invasion by baguette-waving terrorists, that kind of thing. The team's - highly confidential - work will be 'important' in the fight against 'malicious elements' the report states. It comes amid efforts by the French to innovate its approaches towards defence. An inventor piloted his jet-powered flyboard over crowds at Bastille Day military celebrations in Paris on Sunday. Tweeting after Franky Zapata had shocked and stunned crowds, President Emmanuel Macron said: 'Proud of our army, modern and innovative' with a video of the stunt. Comprised of just four or five SF writers, the group will be expected to 'think more creatively' than 'more traditional elements' of the army. Through role play 'and other techniques,' the team will 'attempt to imagine' how terrorist organisations or foreign states could 'use advanced technology.' or aliens. French Defence Minister Florence Parly said that the country 'holds all the aces in this race' for military innovation. Also on display at the Bastille celebrations was the futuristic-looking Nerod F5 microwave jammer, a rifle-shaped weapon designed to target drones by blocking the pilot's signals and blowing the mothers out the sky. There have even been plans for robots to 'support' French troops in Mali, with experiments 'currently underway.' Of course, science-fiction had often provided uncanny predictions of genuine scientific advances. Jules Verne's 1865 novel From The Earth To The Moon depicted three people being sent to the Moon in a spacecraft from Florida with some similarities to the actual Apollo 11 mission one hundred and four years later. The first example of a video phone appearing on screens was in the 1927 film Metropolis, although it was considerably larger than the devices we see today. HG Wells predicted the atomic bomb in his 1914 novel The World Set Free - which featured 'indefinitely' exploding bombs based on then-early atomic science. And, then there was The Daleks' invasion of Earth, obviously.
The most senior Catholic leader in England and Wales 'went to extraordinary lengths to try to discredit' a BBC documentary on child sexual abuse and its cover-up by the church, the Gruniad Morning Star has disclosed. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, publicly accused the BBC of 'bias and malice' before the documentary was broadcast in 2003. Documents seen by the Gruniad show that he also 'lobbied the BBC's director of news, wrote to all priests in his archdiocese urging them not to speak to BBC journalists and lodged a formal whinge against the programme's makers.' The BBC's programme complaints unit utterly rejected the whinge and the BBC governors' programme complaints committee dismissed his subsequent appeal against that decision. Nichols refused to apologise to the programme-makers. Last month the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse criticised Nichols for 'putting the church's reputation before the welfare of abuse survivors.' In a report, IICSA said that Nichols's response to the BBC programme was 'misplaced and missed the point.' The documentary, part of the investigative series Kenyon Confronts on BBC1, included interviews with survivors who claimed the church covered up cases of sexual abuse. It tracked down Father James Robinson, a Catholic priest who had fled to the US after being accused of sexual abuse and who reportedly received financial support from the Catholic archdiocese of Birmingham for seven years before he was extradited, convicted and jailed. At the time of the documentary, Nichols was archbishop of Birmingham and chair of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults. At a press conference before the programme was broadcast, Nichols accused the BBC of 'using the licence fee to pay unscrupulous reporters trying to recirculate old news and to broadcast programmes that are biased and hostile.' He added: 'That this programme has been allowed to progress this far shows either malice towards the church or a total lack of judgement or of managerial responsibility.' He demanded the BBC justify the renewal of the licence fee. While the documentary was being made, Nichols wrote to priests in his archdiocese urging them not to speak to BBC reporters working on it. 'If you are approached please remember you are not advised to be cooperative. You may, quite properly, refuse to take part in any questioning or interview. This is my advice,' he wrote. Before broadcast, Nichols wrote to Richard Sambrook, then the BBC's director of news, saying a re-examination of historic sexual abuse cases was 'not in the public interest.' He claimed reporters had telephoned a priest at 2am, 'acted discourteously and inconsiderately' to a priest who had just undergone major surgery and 'cornered' a priest in a residential care home to question him. Sambrook told the Gruniad: 'My recollection of the difficult meeting and correspondence with Cardinal Nichols is that he was entirely focused on trying to discredit the BBC's journalism in the hope of diverting criticism of the church. Fortunately the BBC's journalism was sufficiently robust to see off such attempts. He showed little interest in wider questions about uncovering abuse or the welfare of the survivors.' After the programme was broadcast in October 2003, Nichols lodged a formal complaint with the PCU, claiming that BBC reporters 'used underhand methods' to gain access to allegedly 'elderly and infirm' priests. The PCU rejected Nichols' complaint, saying that there were no grounds for his claim that the Kenyon Confronts team had behaved inappropriately. It said the investigation was 'conducted properly and in line with BBC producers' guidelines' and there was 'no evidence of serious breaches of editorial standards.' Some of the eleven sworn witness statements from nuns and priests provided by Nichols to the PCU contradicted his allegations that reporters had 'not properly identified themselves.' Evidence from recordings of some encounters also showed his claims to be entirely false. Nichols claimed that one priest had been 'left distressed' by a visit from two members of the Kenyon Confronts team, who were alleged to be hectoring and intimidating. However, the priest's statement said that the pair were 'well-mannered, polite and had respect for my office, although I was glad when I had finished speaking to them. They were not unpleasant or malicious in the way they spoke to me.' Nichols appealed to the BBC governors' programme complaints committee against the PCU's adjudication - seemingly in the belief that if you keep whinging long enough, those you're whinging too will eventually get sick of the process and give you what you want. However, in May 2005 the committee rejected the appeal. After the decision, Paul Kenyon, the programme's presenter and Paul Woolwich, its executive producer, wrote to Nichols saying the archbishop had 'tarnished the reputation' of those who worked on the documentary. 'We believe an apology to set the record straight would now be appropriate.' Nichols replied: 'I see no need for me to offer an apology.' Last month, IICSA said Nichols' response to the programme 'should have focused on recognising the harm caused to the complainants and victims. Instead, [it] led many to think that the church was still more concerned with protecting itself than the protection of children.' After the report was published, the Tablet, a respected Catholic weekly, said that the inquiry's criticisms 'raised questions' about Nichols's fitness for office. In a statement to the Gruniad, Nichols apologised for, at the time, 'failing to sufficiently acknowledge' two positive elements of the programme: giving a platform to abuse survivors and locating Robinson. He pointed out that he had offered to give a live interview to the BBC at the time of the broadcast. Woolwich said it had not been possible to broadcast a live interview immediately after the broadcast of a pre-recorded programme and that Nichols had rejected an offer to appear live on Newsnight the same night or the Today programme the following morning. Nichols's statement said: 'I was annoyed at the approach of the programme-makers who gave a slanted presentation of the real problems we were seeking to address. I accept that my frustration at the approach of the programme-makers led me not to give sufficient attention to the suffering of the victims of abuse perpetrated by the priest in question, although I had already met with all but one of them. A more thorough listening to the experiences of victims and survivors has now become central to the church's approach and we will continue to adjust our work in safeguarding in light of this victim-centred approach.'
The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest, according to the Observer. In a joint letter to 'key cabinet members,' they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits,' highlighting one filed last week by Banks against the campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr. Reports by Cadwalladr, a freelance journalist who works for the Observer, have led to multiple investigations by regulators and a five billion dollar fine for Facebook. 'The legal claim against Ms Cadwalladr, issued on 12 July by lawyers acting for Arron Banks, is another example of a wealthy individual appearing to abuse the law in an attempt to silence a journalist and distract from these issues being discussed by politicians, the media and the public at a critical time in the life of our democracy,' the letter says. Banks had not seen The Great Hack, which comes out on general release on Netflix this week, when he instructed lawyers over the documentary. London law firm Kingsley Napley, acting on behalf of Banks, his company Eldon Insurance, and Leave.EU, said in a letter on 16 July that their clients were 'concerned' it would include 'false and defamatory allegations' about their clients made by Cadwalladr and others. The Observer claimed that Kingsley Napley 'demanded a right to see any allegations made in the film' and be 'given a chance to respond,' by Wednesday 17 July. The lawyers warned Netflix they would 'rely on any failure to respond, or failure to meet their demands, in any future legal proceedings they considered necessary or appropriate.' The Great Hack's co-director Karim Amer said: 'We have received a letter from Arron Banks's solicitors, which we have responded to, making clear that we stand by the contents of the film and will vigorously defend against any claim. We find it ridiculous that Arron Banks and his solicitors would issue such a letter without having seen the actual film. We would invite Mister Banks to watch the film when it premieres worldwide on Netflix on 24 July.' He added that Banks would be welcome at a London screening at the ICA that day. The Observer's editor, Paul Webster, criticised the legal action against Cadwalladr. 'Throughout her investigations she has been the target of a relentless campaign of smears and vilification by some of the subjects of her inquiries,' he claimed. 'The latest legal threats are a further attempt to smother vital investigative reporting.' Banks said: 'I'm a great supporter of a free media and press.' One or two people even believed him. 'Unfortunately, Brexit has caused a breakdown in usual journalistic standards. What we won't tolerate is outright lying or misrepresentation of the facts. Carole Cadwalladr will have to stand up her wild claims in court and face the consequences or apologise,' he said. He did not comment on the letter sent to Netflix. Press freedom campaigners who signed the joint letter to the UK government say that they have 'noted a growing trend' of wealthy individuals using lawsuits to 'silence or intimidate' journalists. The sixteen signatories included Webster and the directors of leading media and artistic freedom groups the Committee to Protect Journalists, PEN, Index on Censorship, Reporters Sans Frontières, Greenpeace, a law scholar and the family of the murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. In addition to Banks's case against Cadwalladr, the letter also highlights legal threats to Galizia, who at the time of her death faced more than forty civil lawsuits, many brought by UK-based firms. Often the spectre of costly legal action can force a retraction or prevent a story being published; in other cases rich individuals may hope to silence critics with limited resources through the cost and time of a court case. 'One of the things we have become increasingly worried about was the use of legal threats to silence journalists, and especially the threat of expensive libel suits,' said Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship. In the US there have long been concerns about lawsuits of this kind, which are known as 'strategic litigation against public participation,' or 'Slapp' cases. Several states have laws that stop these cases being brought to court. Sometimes just the threat of legal action can kill a story. 'Slapp lawsuits can be a very low-cost means of [subjects of negative reporting] getting what they want, because quite often they don't even need to take anyone to court,' said Rebecca Vincent, UK director of Reporters Sans Frontières. The organisation last year gave Cadwalladr its L'esprit de RSF award and Vincent praised her for discussing the lawsuit publicly. 'I think she is very courageous about speaking out about this abusive defamation lawsuit that has been filed against her, because so often these cases remain hidden,' she said. Cadwalladr has questioned why Banks chose to lodge a personal case against her rather than suing the outlets that published her work, or the Ted platform that hosted a speech at the heart of his case, which have resources to fight a long legal battle. 'Arron Banks is not suing Ted or the Guardian and Observer, though it is the extensive investigations that we have published and that have helped trigger several serious criminal investigations that has prompted this lawsuit,' she said. 'Instead, he has chosen to go after me as an individual in a clear attempt to intimidate and harass me. It's extremely concerning that a millionaire can use the law in this way. This isn't just an attack on me, it's an attack on journalism.' This year Britain has positioned itself as a world leader on media freedom, hosting a global conference, appointing barrister Amal Clooney as a special envoy on the issue, and promising to consider the impact on press freedom of any new legislation. Ginsberg urged authorities to 'make good' on those promises by cracking down on abuses within the country. 'Given that the UK has made media freedom its major focus for 2019, one way it could take a lead is dealing with the big UK law firms who are helping the rich and powerful to stifle investigative journalism.'
Miranda Hart has announced that the BBC will be 'holding filmed celebrations' to mark the tenth anniversary of the first episode of Miranda, with 'special guests' and 'the odd bit of dancing.' The comedienne announced the news on Twitter, revealing that the hour-long 'non-scripted special' will be recorded 'later in the year' to mark the November anniversary. She later clarified that the 'special' would not be a reunion episode but, rather, 'a birthday celebration with guests and such fun shizzle.' Whatever that means.
Isn't it about time that audiences finally got to see BBC1's adaptation of The War Of The Worlds, a project first unveiled over two years ago? The three-part SF adaptation promised to be 'a faithful take' on HG Wells's novel. However, although the Ralph Spall and Eleanor Tomlinson drama was expected to arrive in either late 2018 or early 2019, nothing more was heard about it. Until now. This delay was, according to producers Mammoth Screen, down to its visual effects, with the post-production team struggling to complete the show's many computer-generated elements by Christmas 2018. So, many months on, what has happened to the drama? As we haven't had so much as a sniff of a trailer, is The War Of The Worlds now stuck, perpetually, in post-production? The answer, it would seem, is no. A final cut was completed in May 2019. That is according to information provided by the British Board of Film Classification. Although they aren't required to rate everything that is broadcast on TV the BBFC do certify anything submitted by broadcasters for their DVD releases. Thus, in all likelihood, The War Of The Worlds is finished and ready to be broadcast. Although the BBC did not comment on this when contacted by the Radio Times, it did say the drama is 'coming soon.' But, then again, so is Christmas ...
The ninth and final series of Suits will receive its UK premiere on Netflix on Saturday 20 July, it has been announced. New episodes will continue to be made available every Saturday, mere days after they are initially broadcast in the United States. Denise Crosby joins the cast for the final series which follows Harvey and Donna as they balance their relationship with work and fight to salvage the firm's tarnished reputation alongside their partners.
The BBC has released a sixty-second trailer and some first look images from their upcoming The Capture, starring Holliday Grainger and Callum Turner. The Capture is described as 'a surveillance thriller set in London. When soldier Shaun Emery's conviction for a murder in Afghanistan is overturned due to flawed video evidence he returns to life as a free man with his young daughter. But, when damning CCTV footage from a night out in London comes to light, Shaun's life takes a shocking turn and he must soon fight for his freedom once again. With Rachel Carey drafted in to investigate Shaun's case, she quickly learns that the truth can sometimes be a matter of perspective. The cast also includes Ron Perlman, Famke Janssen, Laura Haddock, Ben Miles, Lia Williams, Sophia Brown, Paul Ritter, Adelayo Adedayo, Ralph Ineson, Cavan Clerkin, Barry Ward, Ginny Holder and Nigel Lindsay. The six episode drama series comes from Heyday Television and NBCUniversal International Studios and is being written and directed by Cyberbully and Blackout's Ben Chanan.
ITV has ordered Invisible, a feature-length two-part detective drama series starring Jason Watkins and Tala Gouveia. Invisible is set in Bath and follows a wildly ambitious Detective Chief Inspector, McDonald (played by Gouveia), who is partnered with the shy, modest Sergeant Dodds (Watkins). While McDonald has transferred from the mean streets of South London to leap up the career ladder, Dodds has happily languished on the shelf for most of his working life. The drama series was created by DCI Banks writer Robert Murphy.
Comedian, writer and broadcaster Sir Michael Palin is reportedly to have surgery to fix 'a leaky valve' in his heart. The Monty Python's Flying Circus member discovered a problem with his mitral valve - a small flap which stops blood flowing the wrong way around the heart - five years ago. It had not affected his general fitness until earlier this year, he said. 'Recently, though, I have felt my heart having to work harder and have been advised it's time to have the valve repaired,' he wrote on his website. 'I shall be undergoing surgery in September and should be back to normal, or rather better than normal, within three months.' According to the NHS, a leaking mitral valve - known as mitral regurgitation - can cause dizziness, breathlessness, tiredness and chest pain and can potentially lead to an irregular and fast heartbeat, high blood pressure and heart failure. The seventy six-year-old has cancelled a book tour scheduled for October to promote his North Korea Journal, a spin-off from his recent Channel Five documentary about the country. Earlier in July, he finished another tour to promote his non-fiction book about HMS Erebus, a ship which voyaged to both the Arctic and Antarctic in the Nineteenth Century. He was knighted in June, and was recently announced as the executive producer on five new BBC Radio 4 programmes marking Monty Python's Flying Circus's fiftieth anniversary in October. He recently told the Too Old To Die Young podcast: 'I have realised that I have reached the age of seventy five without feeling in any shape or form like someone of seventy five - mentally, certainly. Physically, I think I'm a little bit slower perhaps than I used to be. But I'm still fairly fit. I'm probably fitter and certainly look after myself better, than when I was in my mid-twenties.'
Ofcom has fined a Russian news service two hundred thousand smackers for 'a serious breach of impartiality rules' in several news and current affairs programmes. The broadcasting regulator said RT's breaches included reports on the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and the Syria conflict. Ofcom has instructed RT, formerly Russia Today, to broadcast a summary of its findings. And to say sorry. And look like they mean it. The Kremlin-funded broadcaster called the fine 'disproportionate.' The alleged breaches occurred in seven programmes broadcast between March and April 2018, an investigation by the regulator found in December. The programmes were mostly in relation to major matters of political controversy including the Ukrainian Government's position on Nazism and its treatment of Roma Gypsies. Two of the seven programmes featured former MP and waste-of-space plank George Galloway. Ofcom said: 'RT's failings were a serious breach of our due impartiality rules, which protect public trust in news and other programmes,' adding that RT's breaches represented 'serious and repeated failures of compliance' with its rules. RT has denied the breaches and has launched legal proceeding against Ofcom's ruling. The watchdog said that it would not enforce the fine until the proceedings have been concluded. In a statement, RT said: 'It is very wrong for Ofcom to have issued a sanction against RT on the basis of its breach findings that are currently under Judicial Review by the High Court in London. While we continue to contest the very legitimacy of the breach decisions themselves, we find the scale of proposed penalty to be particularly inappropriate and disproportionate per Ofcom's own track record.'
Marvel announced a bumper crop of ten new superhero movies at Comic Con last weekend. Marvel studios president Kevin Feige, flanked by dozens of Hollywood b-listers, revealed the post-Avengers roster of films to a shocked (and stunned) hall in San Diego. One major surprise was the announcement of Oscar winner Mahershala Ali as Blade The Vampire Hunter, a role played by Wesley Snipes in the 1998 film adaptation. There was rapturous applause - and Beatlemania-style screams - as Ali took to the stage to reveal that he would take on the role. Natalie Portman confirmed her return to a fourth Thor film - Thor: Love & Thunder - reprising her role as Jane Foster, but this time wielding the power of the Thor hammer. Albeit, she appeared to trouble actually picking it up. 'Feels pretty good. I've always had a little hammer envy,' Portman told the audience after being handed the hammer by director Taika Watiti. Portman's role is based on Jason Aaron's comic book series which sees Jane Foster become the mighty ladygirl Thor when Thor Odison finds himself unworthy of picking up the hammer and swinging it about in a mighty manner. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson will also return for the film.
Earlier the audience were teased with number of new productions and sequels from 'phase four' of the Marvel cinematic strategy to take over the universe. The first film to be announced was The Eternals. The cast includes Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek who both appeared on stage to talk about their roles. Jolie, who will play Thena, told the audience: 'I'm going to work ten times harder because I think what it means to be a part of the MCU, what it means to be an Eternal, to be part of this family. I know what we all need to do. We've all read the script, we all know what the task ahead is and we know what you deserve so we are all going to be working very very hard,' she added. The Eternals are powerful beings who look like human but have special alien powers. A bit like Donald Rump, in fact. The film has a release date of November 2020. The first Asian American super hero film Shang-Chi was also announced. After months of castings Kevin Feige announced that the Canadian actor Simu Liu had been confirmed to play the title role. Shang-Chi who was born to a Chinese father and an American mother, first appeared in the Marvel comics almost fifty years ago - Master Of Kung-Fu was one of the few Marvel comics that this blogger bothered with as a saucepan, dear blog reader, having always been more of a DC kid his very self. Shang-Chi & The Legends Of The Ten Rings will also star Crazy Rich Asians actress Awkwafina. After months of speculation, Marvel finally confirmed the first details of the eagerly anticipated Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff. The film has been in production for thirty days with a trailer showing early scenes shot in Budapest. Johansson told the panel: 'I get to play Natasha as a fully realised woman, in all of her many facets.' A number of Marvel TV series were also announced which would be available on the new Disney+ streaming service including Loki and Hawkeye. Feige ended the panel by telling the audience that he did not have time to talk about a host of other films. 'We didn't mention that we're making Black Panther 2, we didn't mention the fact that Guardian Of The Galaxies 3 is coming. We didn't have time to talk about Captain Marvel 2 and I didn't have time to talk about The Fantastic Four and there's no time to talk about Mutants,' he said.
Police are investigating after 'foreign objects' were found in food at a cafe at Warner Brothers Studios, in Hertfordshire. Police said that the objects were discovered on 17 July at the Leavesden site, before the food could be eaten. Warner Brothers said that the objects were discovered in a kitchen at its Studio Tour. A Warner Brothers Studios spokesman said: 'The food was discovered before the Studio Tour opened and did not leave the kitchen. We are taking this matter extremely seriously, the safety of our visitors is our primary concern,' it said. The police were unable to say what was in the food due to ongoing investigations.
Hong Kong actor and film producer Simon Yam has been stabbed while speaking on stage at a promotional event in China. The actor, who has appeared in numerous award-winning films, was in the city of Zhongshan when the incident occurred. Video shared on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, shows a man approach the stage and lunging at the actor before a violent scuffle ensues. Yam's manager said that his client's injuries were not life-threatening and he had been taken to hospital. 'He was stabbed in his stomach and slashed on his arm, but was conscious the entire time,' Lester Mo Gee-man told the South China Morning Post. He added: 'A preliminary investigation showed his injuries were not critical but the doctors are still deciding whether to operate on him.' The sixty four-year-old actor was appearing at the opening of a new shop in Zhongshan in the Southern province of Guangdong on Saturday. The video shows a man rushing onto the stage and removing a weapon from his pocket. He can then be seen lashing out at Yam, who tried desperately to move away while clutching his stomach. Security guards then rushed to intervene and, according to police, the attacker was detained at the scene. And given a jolly severe talking to, no doubt. In a second video that has also circulated on social media, Yam can be seen holding his stomach in the aftermath of the attack while asking to be taken to hospital. Really quickly. The actor started his career as a model before starring in a number of critically acclaimed Chinese-language films. He made his Hollywood debut in the 2003 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle Of Life in which he played a crime lord.
Potential jurors are searching Interweb chat rooms for tips and 'techniques' on how to avoid their public duty, a senior judge has claimed. The problem was highlighted by Judge Andrew Menary QC, the Recorder of Liverpool. He imposed a maximum one thousand knicker fine on a seventy-year-old man who gave 'a string of excuses' for not attending jury duty. The judge said that jurors 'across the country' were 'simply ignoring summonses or refusing to attend.' The scallywags. 'I understand there are now web chat sites in which excuses and techniques for avoiding jury service are openly discussed,' Judge Menary claimed. The judge was dealing with the case of Barry Grimes who not only refused to serve as a juror but also failed to attend his subsequent contempt of court hearing. Which, in and of itself, is also contempt of court. Do you get a special prize for double jeopardy? Grimes failed to attend court on 18 January 2018 and his jury service was deferred to 15 July this year, when he failed to attend again. He said that he could not sit for long periods of time and could not concentrate for long, the court heard. But, when told that he would need a doctor's certificate to prove his claims, he said he was not unfit but simply was unwilling attend. Another excuse of a pre-booked holiday was also rejected by the judge and all further attempts to contact Grimes proved unsuccessful. The judge said that Grimes 'displayed a wholly unpleasant and unnecessary attitude. I have no information from him to excuse his attendance at all and explanations given in the past are plainly not true on the information I have at the moment,' said Judge Menary who branded it 'a quite deliberate contempt of court.' The bag of sand fine must be paid within twenty eight days, otherwise fourteen days' imprisonment will be imposed by default.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was allegedly 'punched in the face by a seventy-year-old inmate just days after being thrown behind bars,' it has been claimed. Albeit, the sources of this claim - the Daily Lies and the Daily Mirra - are both about as trustworthy as The Black Adder's Saint Ralph The Liar. The English Defence League founder was reportedly 'decked' by 'the elderly lag' for 'acting like a celebrity' in the showers at HMP Belmarsh, reports the Daily Lies Sunday. Yaxley-Lennon, was extremely jailed for nine months for contempt of court after putting an ongoing child grooming trial at risk of collapsing. He pleaded with President (and hairdo) Donald Rump to offer him asylum in the US and claimed that he would be 'killed' in a British prison. But, the far-right extremist's words fell on deaf ears (Yaxley-Lennon this is, not Rump. Although, you know, if the cap fits ...) and he was, allegedly, punched within seventy two hours of arriving at Belmarsh. An alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' allegedly told the Daily Lies: 'There was a bit of pushing then one prisoner, a seventy-year-old, very hard pensioner, decked Robinson with a punch to the jaw. He didn't have any idea who he had hit, but he wasn't going to back down. Those are the rules in Belmarsh, you fight or back down. It was all over in a flash. One of the prison officers asked what was going on, but [Yaxley-Lennon] said he slipped so no official report was made.' Which is, obviously, very inconvenient for both newspapers in establishing the veracity of these allegations. You'd think. 'If you start acting as though you are big time, someone will take you down,' the alleged 'source' allegedly continued. 'If you come into the prison and start acting like you are the boss they will take you down quickly.' The Ministry of Justice said: 'We do not comment on individuals.' Or, punching. Or even allegations of punching.
A seagull has, allegedly, 'seized and flown off with' a family's pet Chihuahua, according to its owners. Becca Louise Hill claimed that a gull 'swooped down' and grabbed Gizmo (that's the dog, if you were wondering) 'by the scruff of his neck' in Paignton. Her partner tried to grab the dog's legs to stop him being taken away. But, to no avail. Gizmo was described as 'a small, brown dog, weighing two kilograms.' Or, a Chihuahua, in other words. Ornithologist Peter Rock told the Today programme on Radio 4 that seagulls are capable of picking up small animals. Hill said her partner was with Gizmo at the side of the house on Sunday. She added that there had been no sightings of Gizmo since. 'It is not nice at all that one of my babies has gone,' she said. Rock, from the University of Bristol, said: 'If you have a very tiny little dog I suggest you don't let it run around in your back garden. It may well become a meal.' He said that he was 'not really surprised' to hear of the incident because gulls are 'very large.' And, Chihuahua's are, you know, not. Tony Whitehead from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said that it was 'possible' a recently fledged herring gull came into 'conflict' with the dog and the parents defended. Alternatively it was 'simply a predation.' He said it was 'a rare thing to happen to a dog,' but he advised owners of small dogs to 'keep an eye' on their pets.
Workers removing shelves and coolers from a former No Frills Supermarket in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in January reportedly discovered a body behind one of them. The remains were recently identified as those of Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada, a former employee who had been reported missing in November 2009. Investigators used his parents' DNA to confirm the identity and the clothes matched the description of his attire at the time he was reported missing, according to Council Bluffs Police Captain Todd Weddum. Murillo-Moncada's parents reported their son missing after he became upset and ran out of their home. They told police at the time that he was 'acting irrationally,' possibly because of medication he was taking, Weddum said. Officers contacted family members, other law enforcement agencies, nearby detention centres and even the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency but received no information regarding his possible whereabouts. Investigators now believe that Murillo-Moncada went to the supermarket and climbed on top of the coolers. The space was used as storage for merchandise, Weddum said and employees would 'sometimes go there to hide when they wanted to take an unofficial break.' He is thought to have fallen into the eighteen-inch gap between the back of the cooler and a wall, where he became trapped and died. Noise from the coolers' compressors may have concealed any attempts to call for help, according to Weddum. An autopsy found no signs of trauma and the case has been deemed an accidental death.
This blogger's beloved (though, tragically unsellable) Newcastle United have signed the striker Joelinton from Hoffenheim for a club record fee on a six-year deal. The twenty-year-old Brazilian is the first signing of Steve Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) since he was named the club's new head coach, replacing Rafael Benitez. Joelinton scored eleven goals in thirty five games for Hoffenheim last season, with seven of those coming in the Bundesliga. He started his career at Brazilian side Sport Recife before moving to Germany in 2015. The reported thirty five million knicker deal smashes the previous club record fee of twenty million notes paid for Paraguay playmaker Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United in January. 'I'm really happy to be here,' claimed Joelinton, who will wear the number nine shirt at St James' Park previously worn by Hughie Gallagher, Jackie Milburn, Len White, Wyn Davies, Malcolm MacDonald, Les Ferdinand, Alan Shearer and, most recently Salomon Rondon. 'I know it's a large investment that the club has made in me, and that comes with a huge responsibility. I'm highly motivated and hope to give back on the pitch.' Brucie said: 'The kid has got an exciting time ahead of him. He is a smashing young player and we are obviously delighted to get him. It is been going on for a little bit now, so to get him is great for everybody. He has got everything that a modern-day player wants. He is big, strong and athletic, and of course he's got age on his side too which is vitally important.' German news sites speculated on Tuesday that the delay in concluding the Joelinton deal had been due to Newcastle waiting for a work permit rather than any issue related to his personal terms or the deal itself. Following Mirandinha (another former member of the number nine club), Fumaca, Cacapa and Kenedy he will become the fifth Brazilian-born player to represent the club. Let us all hope, for everyone's sake, he proves to be a somewhat better acquisition than any of those were.
Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday have reported this blogger's beloved (though, tragically unsellable) Newcastle to the Premier League over the appointment of their former manager. Grassed 'em up good and proper to The Law like a filthy, stinkin' Copper's Nark, so they did. Hell hath no fury, it would seem, like a middle of the table Championship side who get their - not particularly impressive - manager hoisted. Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) had extremely resigned as Wednesday boss last week following talks with The Magpies. He was then confirmed as Newcastle manager the following day on a three-year deal, taking coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence with him. The Owls, whose Championship campaign starts next week, have yet to name a replacement for Brucie. In a statement, the Yorkshire club whinged: 'Following Newcastle United's announcement on 17 July 2019 of its appointment of former Sheffield Wednesday staff Steve Bruce, Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, the club confirms that it has today reported Newcastle United's conduct to the Premier League. As the Premier League will now initiate and carry out investigations into the club's allegations, the club will not be commenting further on this matter whilst such investigations are ongoing.' Listen, mate, as far as most of us at Th' Toon are concerned, you can have him back if it means that much to you. Today, if you want.
Brucie has also claimed that he will never be controversial club owner Mike Ashley's 'yes man.' One or two people even believed him. Ashley has drawn fierce criticism from Magpies' fans, with a perceived lack of spending often a focus of frustration. 'I think you've known me long enough. I'm not going to be anybody's yes man,' claimed Brucie. 'I'm too long in the tooth for that. I've heard it said that I'm a puppet or not in charge of transfers or what have you, but I can only report on how he's been with myself and he's been straight down the line in the conversations I've had. That can only be a good thing. I'm not his bag man or anything else. I will certainly be my own man, I always have. Whoever was sitting here would have big shoes to fill, but let me have a crack.' So, there you have it, dear blog reader, on the conveyor belt tonight Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) wants 'a crack.' Good luck with that, Brucie.
Dinamo Bucharest manager Eugen Neagoe is reported to be in 'a stable condition' after collapsing on the bench during Sunday's two-nil defeat by Universitatea Craiova. The fifty one-year-old became unwell in the twenty fourth minute in the Liga 1 fixture in the National Arena, the club said. He was given a bottle of water and could be seen breathing heavily on the sidelines shortly before he fainted. Play was halted for fifteen minutes as he received treatment, before he was taken to Bucharest's Floreasca Hospital. Neagoe, who only joined the side in June, is stable and will remain under observation at the hospital, local media later reported. In 2016 Dinamo Bucharest midfielder Patrick Ekeng died, aged twenty six, of a suspected heart attack after collapsing on the pitch.
The father of a Partick Thistle player has been hailed for giving 'life-saving' emergency help to a supporter at his son's Scottish League Cup tie. Thistle striker Lewis Mansell's dad David, who is a medic, rushed to the aid of the unwell fan during the game at Hamilton Academical's stadium. Eye witnesses say that he provided CPR before emergency services arrived. 'The thoughts of everyone at Thistle are with the supporter who fell ill this afternoon,' said the club. 'Thanks to The Jags fan who was on hand to offer immediate medical assistance and to all of the emergency services for their efforts. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.' A Police Scotland spokesman told BBC Scotland the supporter had been taken to Hairmyres Hospital, where he is now recovering. Matt Greer, a fan in the away section at New Douglas Park, described Mansell's actions as 'heroic' as he stepped in. 'The best performance I've ever seen at a Thistle game came today from a fellow fan,' he wrote on Twitter. David Mansell later replied via social media, saying: 'I'd just like to say that mine was only part of a team effort. Special praise should also go to the Thistle fans first on scene, Hamilton first aiders and the stewards whose prompt actions including CPR and getting a defibrillator to the patient very quickly. A special thank you to the A&E consultant who was also on scene.' Hamilton won the game on a penalty shootout after the tie finished two-two.
Former England, Stottingtot Hotshots, Blunderland and Aston Villains striker Darren Bent has retired more than a year after his last professional appearance. Which will, presumably, come as a considerable surprise to all football fans who thought he'd already retired. The thirty five-year-old had been without a club after leaving Derby County at the end of the 2018 season, having scored two hundred and eleven goals in five hundred and fifty eight career games. Bent came through the academy system at Ipswich Town and went on to play for nine senior clubs. And, proved to be a colossal waste of money to most of them. He made his England debut in March 2006 and won thirteen caps, scoring four goals. The Londoner amassed almost fifty million quid in transfer fees during his eighteen-year career, including Aston Villains paying a club-record eighteen million knicker to sign him from The Mackem Filth in January 2011. He finished his career at Burton Albinos on loan and played his last game for The Brewers at Preston Both Ends in May 2018.
Having played like a bunch of girls for most of the previous two days England bowled Ireland out for but thirty eight to win the one-off four-day test by one hundred and forty three runs and avoid being on the receiving end of a shockjing and stunning upset. So, to sum up then England were bowled out for eighty five, suffered a collapse in both of their innings, had their nightwatchman look their best batsmen with ninety two, and they still ended up winning by what, in the record books might look like a relatively easy margin. Cricket, eh? Irish eyes were smiling on the first day but, by the end, Irish hearts were breaking. Ireland, playing their third test, were chasing one hundred and eighty two for a famous win, only to be demolished by Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad in perfect conditions for seam bowling. In the damp and gloom and with the floodlights on at Lord's, Woakes swung the ball around corners to return figures of six for seventeen and Broad nipped it about a bit to end with four for nineteen. At one stage, three wickets fell for no runs and the last nine for a mere eighteen as Ireland registered the seventh lowest total in test history and the lowest ever at Lord's. Woakes and Broad bowled unchanged through an innings that took only ninety four deliveries, the joint-second shortest in test history and shortest for ninety five years. From England's perspective, it was a bowling performance that masked the deficiencies of their batsmen, who collapsed in each innings and were reliant on the performance of nightwatchman Jack Leach and man of the match on Thursday. Indeed, their own first-innings total of eighty five was the lowest scored by any team who went on to win a test in one hundred and twelve years. With the Ashes against Australia less than a week away, England did little to allay concerns over their top order - most notably Jonny Bairstow who has swanned around like he owns the gaff with a head the size of a hot air balloon since the World Cup final but, here, registered a pair - while their fast-bowling picture is increasingly crowded. This was an extraordinary test, packed almost as full of incident and discussion points as England's World Cup final triumph on the same ground twelve days ago. In the end, England avoided the ignominy of defeat to the test novices, but have answered few of their outstanding Ashes questions. One positive is the seventy two made by Jason Roy on his test debut, but opening partner Rory Burns was scratchy and number three Joe Denly spent little time in the middle. Bairstow and Moeen Ali both look woefully out of touch. Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, rested for this game, will of course return but Leach, England's top-scorer, was in the side for his left-arm spin and is unlikely to play at Edgbaston on Thursday. If England are short of batting options, then they at least have riches of pace bowlers. Woakes and Broad pushed their claim for inclusion against Australia, while Sam Curran and debutant Olly Stone both bowled nicely in the first innings. With James Anderson and Jofra Archer set to return from injuries (and, Mark Wood a few weeks behind), England have six or seven options for a maximum of three pace-bowling places. Stuart Thompson bowled Stone with the first ball of the day to set up Ireland's chase, one that was initially halted by rain. When it was dry enough for play to resume, the conditions were about as bad as they could have been for Ireland and perfect for England's seam attack. Woakes, who has an outstanding record on this ground and Broad took full advantage. On a full length, they exposed Ireland's technique and lack of experience, nibbling the ball around to either find the edge or pepper the pads. England's catching was sharp, perfectly demonstrated by Bairstow diving to his left to hold William Porterfield off Woakes for the first wicket to provide at least one worthwhile contribution to the game from the Yorkshireman. What followed was an exhibition of seam bowling to which Ireland had no reply. Their defence was flimsy and those who tried to hit their way out of trouble found that it was not the answer. Although Ireland were taught a harsh lesson on the third day, they can leave Lord's knowing they gave England a real scare. Yes, their second-innings batting shows just how much work they have to do to win tests, but they had the better of the majority of the first two days. In any other conditions, they would have perhaps begun Friday as marginal favourites to win. Medium-pacer Tim Murtagh was superb in taking five for thirteen on the first morning and he was ably supported by new-ball partner Mark Adair, who was playing his first test. On Thursday, when England - briefly - looked like batting Ireland out of the game, the visitors showed admirable guts and persistence to drag themselves back into the contest. They will improve through more exposure to test cricket, with their next assignment coming in Sri Lanka in early 2020.
India has successfully launched its second lunar mission a week after it halted the scheduled blast-off due to a technical snag. Chandrayaan-2 was launched from the Sriharikota space station. India's space chief said his agency had 'bounced back with flying colours' (a bit of a mixed metaphor, but a charmingly nice one) after the aborted first attempt. India hopes the one hundred and sixteen million quid mission will be the first to land on the Moon's South pole. The spacecraft has entered the Earth's orbit, where it will stay for twenty three days before it begins a series of manoeuvres that will take it into lunar orbit. If successful, India will become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon's surface. Only the former Soviet Union, the US and China have been able to do so. The lift-off was broadcast live on TV and on the space agency's official social media accounts. There was applause in the Indian Space Research Organisation control room minutes after the launch, as the rocket took off towards the outer atmosphere. For the first time in India's space history, an interplanetary expedition is being led by two women - Muthaya Vanitha, the project director and Ritu Karidhal, the mission director. It is the most complex mission ever attempted by India's space agency. 'It is the beginning of a historical journey of India towards the Moon,' said ISRO chief K Sivan in a speech after the launch. He thanked and congratulated the nearly one thousand scientists, engineers and other staff who had worked on the mission: 'It is my duty to salute all the people who have done the work.' Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the mission for being 'fully indigenous.' It will have an Orbiter for remote sensing the Moon and also a Lander-Rover module for analysis of lunar surface. The countdown on 15 July was stopped fifty six minutes before launch after 'a technical snag was observed in [the] launch vehicle system,' according to ISRO. Indian media have reported that a leak from a helium gas bottle in the cryogenic engine of the rocket was to blame. The fuel from the rocket was drained and the scientists resolved the glitch. India's first lunar mission in 2008 - Chandrayaan-1 - did not land on the lunar surface, but it carried out the first - and most detailed - search for water on the Moon using radars. Chandrayaan-2 will try to land near the little-explored south pole of the Moon. The mission will focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes. India is using its most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, in this mission. It weighs six hundred and forty tonnes and, at forty four metres, is as high as a fourteen-storey building. The spacecraft used in the mission has three distinct parts: an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The orbiter, which has a mission life of a year, will take images of the lunar surface. The lander (named Vikram, after the founder of ISRO rather than the former England cricketer Vikram Solanki, sadly) weighs about half as much and carries within its belly a twenty seven kilogram Moon rover with instruments to analyse the lunar soil. In its fourteen-day life, the rover (called Pragyan - 'wisdom' in Sanskrit) can travel up to a half-a-kilometre from the lander and will send data and images back to Earth for analysis. The launch is only the beginning of a two hundred and thirty thousand mile journey - ISRO is still hoping the lander will touch down on the Moon on either 6 or 7 September as planned, despite the week-long delay of the launch. The journey of more than six weeks is a lot longer than the four days the Apollo missions took to land humans on the lunar surface. In order to save fuel, India's space agency has chosen a circuitous route to take advantage of the Earth's gravity, which will help slingshot the satellite towards the Moon. India does not have a rocket powerful enough to hurl Chandrayaan-2 on a direct path. In comparison, the Saturn V rockets used by the Apollo programme remains the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. 'There will be fifteen terrifying minutes for scientists once the lander is released and is hurled towards the South pole of the Moon,' Doctor Sivan said prior to the first launch attempt. He explained that those who had been controlling the spacecraft until then would have no role to play in those crucial moments. So, the actual landing would happen only if all the systems performed as they should. Otherwise, the lander could crash into the lunar surface. Earlier this year, Israel's first Moon mission crash-landed while attempting to touch down.
The Republic of Ireland's postal service has apologised for spelling 'the Moon' incorrectly in Irish on its new commemorative stamps celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. The postal service, known as An Post, launched the stamps last week. And, very beautiful they are too. Four astronauts of Irish ancestry are featured on the stamps. The Irish word for Moon is 'gealach'. But the stamp spelled 'gaelach', which means being Gaelic Irish or relating to the Scottish Highlands. Thus, instead of reading 'The Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Moon Landing,' it actually reads 'The Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Landing on the Irish.' Which, in the case of Neil Armstrong - who had German, Scottish and Irish ancestry - is, technically, still true. The mistake was spotted on social media in recent days and sneered about, as most things on social media usually are. 'While the original Irish text was correct, the transposition of letters in a later draft was not picked up during final proofing, ahead of the printing and release of the stamps on 4 July last,' An Post weaselled in a statement. 'During the design process for the recent Space Exploration stamps, the letters "a" and "e" were transposed in the Irish language title on two of the four stamps.' An Post has said that it has made arrangements to ensure that such errors will not happen again. Retired Colonel, US Air Force and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman launched the stamps. She is one of four astronauts featured on the stamps, along with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Eileen Collins, the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle.
One of NASA's first employees, key to creating the US space programme, has died at the age of ninety five. Chris Kraft was the agency's first flight director and managed all of the Mercury missions, as well some of the Gemini flights. He was a senior planner during the Apollo programme. Later he led the Johnson Space Centre in Houston and oversaw development of the space shuttle. Anyone who has ever watched a rocket launch, marvelled at the Moon landings or seen the space station streak across the night sky has a debt to owe to Kraft. 'Chris Kraft really was the architect of mission control,' said Andrew Chaikin, the NASA historian and author. More than any other person, Kraft was responsible for shaping the organisation and culture of NASA's Mission Control. As his protégé Glynn Lunney commented, 'the Control Centre today is a reflection of Chris Kraft.' Chaikin added that Kraft was 'synonymous with NASA,' having directed some of the most important missions in the agency's history including NASA's first manned launch, Freedom 7 in 1961. It was a short, fifteen-minute suborbital flight piloted by Alan Shepard. A recording of the controllers during the mission captures Kraft coolly talking to his colleagues. In a 2015 NPR interview, Kraft said that he might have sounded cool, but in reality 'I was shaking like a leaf. I wasn't too bad after the first one. But that first one was something else.' During the 1960s, NASA was full of ideas and energy as the agency rushed to meet the end-of-decade challenge to land humans on the Moon. The organisation took risks and succeeded, in large part because of Kraft. He was a quick study (he finished his aeronautical engineering degree at Virginia Tech in just two years) and joined NASA not long after it was created in 1958, helping to design a space programme more or less from scratch. It was a mighty undertaking; there were so many things he had to think through - like developing a communications system that would allow him to speak to the crew every fifteen minutes. 'What do I have to do to do that?' he asked, 'Well, I had to build a whole damn worldwide network which had never been before. That, in itself, was quite a job.' In addition to the technical, he had to put together his team: dozens of controllers who monitored the astronauts and their spacecraft - anything to do with the mission. Chaikin said: 'He was the general in battle with his troops and, you know, he had to co-ordinate all of them. He had to digest all these bits of data that were coming at him from all these different systems, all these different flight controllers.' 'When I gave them the job,' Kraft recalled, 'I said it's your job to now take this on and get it done. I'm not going to stand behind you and push you. You come up with your ideas on how to do it.' His leadership was tested after the tragic Apollo 1 launchpad fire in 1967. Three astronauts died during a countdown rehearsal. Kraft said that he wrestled with whether the rush to the Moon had, ultimately, killed the crew. 'We allowed the poor workmanship to happen,' he said. 'That was unforgivable, frankly. That we knew it was happening. We weren't willing to stop the wheels to fix it.' He also said that 'he never got over' the disaster. After he retired in 1982, Kraft complained about the high cost of developing the next generation of rockets and NASA's plans to land humans on asteroids and he lamented the loss of shuttles Challenger and Columbia. Recalling the 1986 Challenger explosion, he seemed to still think of himself as part of the team, saying: 'We weren't willing on the shuttle to fix the O-rings in the boosters. We weren't willing to take the damn system by the hand and fix it before we said we were going to fly. We had a creed in Mercury that we came up with and that said we will never fly with a known problem that will kill us. Never. We did on the shuttle. That was unforgivable.' Still, he was proud of what he was able to accomplish and pushed for more. He said: 'We need to have that curiosity. We need to have that innate feeling of be ready. Be prepared. It pays off in success.' Kraft thought NASA had stopped being bold after the Moon missions. He said: 'We didn't do the follow-on and we could have and we should have.' Many of his original ideas remain in use today. In fact, Mission Control Centre in Houston is now named after him. And he told NPR that he had flown in space himself, in spirit. 'I flew on every flight - vicariously. I didn't have to go. I mean that. I used to tell people back then when we're flying, I have this feeling that's what we're doing all the time. And then when we stop flying, I don't believe we did it. That was a strange feeling. I was in my revelry when we were flying. My people were the same way. It was such a tremendous pleasure out of making things happen well and safely and knowing that they were contributing to that part of the program. I think it was extremely important to all of us and that was our pay-off. We didn't make any money working for the government. But we sure got a hell of a lot of enjoyment out of it.' Kraft never actually saw a launch with his own eyes. He was either working at Mission Control or, later in life, watching from home on television. Kraft was portrayed by Stephen Root in the 1998 mini-series From The Earth To The Moon. A character played by Joe Spano in Ron Howard's Apollo 13, unnamed, but credited as 'NASA Director' was heavily based on Kraft. In 2001, Kraft published his autobiography, Flight: My Life In Mission Control. It dealt with his life up until the end of the Apollo programme, only briefly mentioning his time as centre director in the epilogue. From 1950, Kraft was married to Betty Anne Turnbull, whom he met in high school. They had two children, Gordon and Kristi-Anne. In his autobiography, Kraft recognised the sacrifices that his family made as a result of his work for NASA, saying that 'I was more of a remote authority figure to Gordon and Kristi-Anne than a typical American father.'
NASA is finding out how people cope with the demands of long space missions at its Human Exploration Research Analog. For forty five days a crew of four people live in a habitat which simulates a mission to Phobos, one of the moons which orbit Mars. The crew carry out daily maintenance tasks on board, enjoy views of space from the capsule window and keep in contact with mission control via a five minute delay, meaning that a response to a communication takes ten minutes.
Sheila Hancock, Kenneth Cranham and Alec Baldwin are some of the actors backing a campaign to raise money for a statue in memory of the 1960s playwright Joe Orton. The writer's career was cut short when he was murdered, at the age of thirty four, by his lover. Doctor Emma Parker, an Orton expert and professor at the University of Leicester, is determined to keep his memory alive by building a statue in the city where he was born and raised. The BBC visited the University of Leicester's extensive Joe Orton archive to explore the life and work of a 'social and sexual rebel.'
David Hedison, the US actor best known for playing Felix Leiter opposite two James Bonds, has died at the age of ninety two. He first played 007's CIA ally in 1973's Live & Let Die, his close friend Sir Roger Moore's first Bond movie - the pair had first worked together in 1964 on an episode of The Saint. He returned to the role sixteen years later to appear opposite Timothy Dalton in 1989's Licence To Kill. He was also turned into an insect in the 1958 film The Fly and starred as Captain Lee Crane in popular 1960s submarine TV series Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (1964 to 1968). At the height of his popularity, he reportedly turned down the lead in The Brady Bunch because, as he would note, 'after four years of subs and monsters, who needs kids and dogs?' He later recalled really 'hitting it off' with his co-star Richard Basehart, saying 'Richard and I had real chemistry. He taught me so much about being camera ready when I needed to be. Television filming is so very fast, we always had to keep moving on.' Seven years after Live & Let Die, he appeared with Moore again in the 1980 oil rig drama North Sea Hijack. The friends were reunited once more in 2007 when Hedison delivered a speech at the unveiling of Sir Roger's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When Hedison returned to the world of James Bond for Licence To Kill, his character survived being fed to a shark by a drug baron who also murdered his new bride. His many other credits included The Colbys, The Love Boat, AD, Perry Mason, Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman, Cannon, The FBI, The Fall Guy, Murder, She Wrote and Dynasty on TV and movies including The Enemy Below, The Son Of Robin Hood, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Naked Face and The Lost World. Hedison was sanguine about his career, admitting that many of the films he had appeared in were 'pictures you never want to see again.' He once remarked: 'When I know they'll be on TV I have a dinner party and invite my friends over so they can't see them.' Ultimately, he came to regard the stage as his favourite medium, saying 'When I go back to the theatre, I feel good about myself. When I do films or TV, it's to make a little bread to pay my mortgage.' Hedison's death was announced by his daughters Serena and the actress and director Alexandra who is married to Jodie Foster. They paid tribute to their father's 'warm and generous heart. Our dad brought joy and humour wherever he went and did so with great style,' they said. His wife of forty eight years, Bridget, died in 2016.
The actor Jeremy Kemp, who has died aged eighty four, was in at the beginning of a piece of television history when he appeared in the original cast of Z Cars as PC Bob Steele. While Dixon Of Dock Green depicted a homely image of the police, Troy Kennedy Martin's 1962 creation was a warts-and-all portrayal of the members of a new crime division set up in the fictional Liverpool suburb of Newtown, with mobile officers in patrol cars Z Victor One and Z Victor Two and in its early days broadcast live. In the first episode, directed by John McGrath, Steele was seen at home having lunch with his partner, Bert Lynch (James Ellis). A stain on the wall was explained as the previous night's hot-pot, flung by Steele's wife, Janey (Dorothy White), during an argument - while she sported a black eye. Steele and Lynch were two of a group of officers selected by Charlie Barlow (Stratford Johns) and John Watt (Frank Windsor) to tackle a wave of crime on Britain's burgeoning housing estates. The others were Fancy Smith (Brian Blessed) and Jock Weir (Joseph Brady). The following year, less than halfway through the second series, Kemp left the drama for fear of typecasting, also saying that he hated wearing the police uniform. He later gained direct experience of the harsh side of life in the force when, he claimed, he was beaten up in a police cell, but was himself charged with assaulting one of the officers. 'I reported a drinking club to the police for not having a proper licence,' he told the Sun in 1985. 'What I did not realise was that the club was paying fifty pounds a week protection money.' He was conditionally discharged for a year after being found guilty of assaulting a police sergeant in 1966 by throwing a beaker of water into his face. After Z Cars, the craggy-faced Kemp took many character roles on TV and in films. With his six foot two inch stature and a military bearing, he was often cast as nobles, doctors or army officers, such as Brigadier General Armin von Roon in the mini-series The Winds Of War (1983) and its sequel, War & Remembrance (1988). This fictional officer in the German high command was created by Herman Wouk in the original novels as a device for relaying important facts and tying the story together. He is wounded in an assassination attempt on Hitler and watches the Führer's gradual decline. Kemp was also one of the original cast who returned to Z Cars in 1978 for its final episode, written again by Kennedy Martin and directed by McGrath. Kemp played a vagrant. Born near Chesterfield, as Edmund Jeremy James Walker, the future actor was the son of Elsa and Edmund Walker, an engineer from a family of landed gentry who had owned estates in Yorkshire. He started his national service with the Gordon Highlanders and ended up as a lieutenant in the Black Watch before training as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama (1955 to 1958), taking his own second forename and mother's maiden name professionally. Winning a bursary to drama students named after the actor Carleton Hobbs, in 1958 Kemp gained a contract with the BBC's radio drama company. He made his television debut that year as a police constable in The Frog, a Sunday-Night Theatre production based on Ian Hay's play. Michael Caine, who also played a constable, is alleged to have later turned down the role taken by Kemp in Z Cars. The police series helped to bring him film roles. The director Michael Anderson auditioned him for a small part in the spy drama Operation Crossbow (1965), in a cast including Sophia Loren, John Mills and Trevor Howard, but was so impressed by 'the range of his personality' that he catapulted him to a billing above the title. Complete with moustache and upper-class accent, Kemp played a British agent. A year later, he was superb in The Blue Max as Willi von Klugermann, the first world war German fighter pilot taking George Peppard under his wing. Kemp was also seen as Jerry Drake in the Amicus horror film Doctor Terror's House Of Horrors (1965), the coach of an Indigenous Australian marathon runner in the Olympic drama The Games (1970), Duke Michael in The Prisoner Of Zenda (1979), Baron Karl von Leinsdorf in The Seven Per Cent Solution, in a small role as an RAF briefing officer in Richard Attenborough's A Bridge Too Far (1977) and an East German general in the spy spoof Top Secret! (1984). On television, he played the Nazi hunter Luke Childs in Contract To Kill (1965), Squadron Leader Tony Shaw, a captured fighter pilot, in the second series of Colditz, the British undercover agent Geoffrey Moore in The Rhinemann Exchange (1977), The Duke of Norfolk in Henry VIII (1979), Leontes in The Winter's Tale (1981), General Gates in George Washington (1984), Jean Luc Picard's brother, Robert in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jack Slipper, chasing Ronnie Biggs, in The Great Paper Chase, over which the real-life detective successfully sued the BBC. His television credits also included appearances in Space: 1999, Hart To Hart, The Greatest American Hero, The Fall Guy, The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes and Murder, She Wrote. After two seasons appearing in the classics at the Old Vic (1958 to 1960), Kemp's stage roles included Aston in The Caretaker (Mermaid, 1972) and Buckingham in Richard III (Olivier Theatre, 1979). His final screen credit came as Hissah Zul in the TV series Conan (1997). He had a particular interest in ornithology and liked nothing better than to visit the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. At various times Kemp lived in Britain and California with his American partner, Christopher Harter. He is survived by his two sisters, Gill and Jan.
One of this blogger's favourite actors, Rutger Hauer has died at the age of seventy five. The actor died in the Netherlands on Friday after a short illness, his agent confirmed. Hauer played the murderous replicant Roy Batty in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner opposite Harrison Ford. Hauer's character gives a famous speech during a face-off with Ford at the end of the movie, dialogue which he helped to write himself. 'I've seen things you people wouldn't believe,' he is tells Ford's character Rick Deckard. 'Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.' Hauer is quoted as telling an interviewer his character - who had only a four-year lifespan - wanted to 'make his mark on existence. The replicant in the final scene, by dying, shows Deckard what a real man is made of.' Though the film was not a box-office success at the time, Hauer's appearance chimed neatly with the new wave futurism then in vogue, adding to the picture's subsequent cult appeal. If Blade Runner secured his reputation internationally, it was the popular series of 'Pure Genius' commercials for Guinness, which ran from 1987 until 1994, that made him a multimillionaire. He was chosen by the advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, because of his physical resemblance to the beer in question. 'The star's blond hair was a symbol of the foamy head on a pint,' noted Campaign magazine. Though not a Guinness fan ('I'd rather drink milk'), he starred in more than twenty commercials that maintained an unvarying level of refrigerated quirkiness; in one, he mused on his former life on Mars, while in another he sat beside an aquarium window and assured viewers: 'It's not easy being a dolphin.' Hauer was particularly well known for horror and vampire roles, starring as Van Helsing in Dario Argento's Dracula 3D, the villainous Lothos in the original movie version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and as the vampire Barlow in Salem's Lot - the 2004 mini-series of the Stephen King novel. Hauer was born in January 1944 in Breukelen, near Amsterdam. In his youth, he joined the Dutch merchant navy but returned to Amsterdam in 1962. He briefly studied acting but then quit to join the army. He later returned to acting and got his major break in 1969 when he was cast in the title role in the popular Dutch TV series Floris. He made his American movie debut in 1981's Nighthawks as a charming if callous terrorist hunted by two detectives (Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams). 'I had a lot of problems on that film, principally with Stallone,' he recalled. 'I had to fight him on the level of what I thought was good enough for the part and what he thought was good enough. I was very angry, very aggressive, very alert, very awake. I don't think I've been more motivated or done better work.' His performance in Blade Runner the following year was by far his most famous role, but he continued acting right up until this year. In the wake of Blade Runner, he appeared in Nicolas Roeg’s under-rated gold-rush saga Eureka and Sam Peckinpah's swansong, The Osterman Weekend (both 1983). He was reunited with his friend Paul Verhoeven for the director's first US venture, the gory medieval drama Flesh + Blood and stayed in period dress for the more family-friendly Ladyhawke (1985 with Michelle Pfeiffer). In the cat-and-mouse thriller The Hitcher (1986), he was brilliant as a psychopath who hides a victim's severed fingers in a portion of French fries and tears a woman in half by tying her to two trucks. 'I think in my darker characters I go a little further than most American actors,' he said. 'Maybe it's because I'm not afraid of that side of myself.' He mixed high and low culture projects with ease. He won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of an inmate at a Nazi death camp in the TV movie Escape From Sobibor (1987) and played a homeless alcoholic in The Legend Of The Holy Drinker (1988), which won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival. But he was a good fit, too, as Lothos in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992) and returned to blood-sucking in 2013 for episodes of the HBO series True Blood. Though it was untrue that the novelist Anne Rice had Hauer in mind when writing the character of Lestat in her novel, Interview With The Vampire, she did concede that Rutger was 'how I see my beloved hero.' He has also appeared Sin City, Blind Fury, Batman Begins as well as episodes of Alias and Smallville. He also appeared in the Kylie Minogue music video 'On A Night Like This'. A committed environmentalist, Rutger also established an AIDS awareness organisation called The Rutger Hauer Starfish Association. In April 2007, he published his autobiography All Those Moments: Stories Of Heroes, Villains, Replicants & Blade Runners (co-written with Patrick Quinlan), in which he discussed many of his movie roles. He is survived by his wife, Ineke Ten Cate, an artist, his daughter, the actress Aysha from his first marriage to Heidi Merz and by his grandson, Leandro.
Science has - finally - taken a break from proving that the Earth is spherical shaped to come up with one of the great scientific revelations of the Twenty First Century so far. Cheese, seemingly, triggers the same excitable brain-parts as some hard drugs. The study, researched at the University of Michigan and published in the US National Library of Medicine, investigated why some foods cause 'addictive behaviours' and other foods do not. It found that the more processed and fatty the food, the more likely it was to cause addiction. The most addictive food was found to be pizza (and, seemingly, the cheesier, the better. Or, worse). Indeed, all of the most addictive foods in the study contained cheese. That's partly due to its high concentration of casein, a protein which can ignite ones brain's opioid receptors and produce the familiar craving for another hit enjoyed by all those pockmarked yellow-skinned people high on crack cocaine found in the police line-ups. Casein is found in all dairy products, but the cheese-making process concentrates it. And, whilst even eating an aircraft carrier's worth of cheese will not yield any actual hallucinogenic effect, someone is almost certain to be trying it out right about now.
This blogger doesn't know about you, dear blog reader, but if he was a committed Tipcatter, he would be God damn outraged by this officious cock-and-bull malarkey. They'll be telling croqueteers to 'keep off the grass' next, mark this blogger's words.
Keith Telly Topping was slightly alarmed by the number of - seemingly intelligent and competent - people who were posting variants of 'Boris is PM, we're all fucked now' on social media on Tuesday evening following that well-known hairdo Bashing Boris Johnson's (completely expected) elevation to leader of the Conservative Party and, shortly thereafter, Prime Minister. What do they mean now? Because, things - in general - had been going swimmingly up till then, hadn't they?
This blogger, frankly, thinks this lady has the right idea.
So, dear blog reader, yes Bashing Boris Johnson is, indeed, the new Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Including both Kingston upon Thames and Kingston upon Hull. Otherwise known as The United Kingstons. You might have heard about this thing, it was in all the papers and everything. One lady - or uncertain overseas origin - certainly appears to have grasped the general nub of the situation.
According to the BBC News website, Bashing Boris's first job as PM - before he has even thought about appointing a cabinet or making any crass comments about foreigners - will be 'to impress Larry' the Downing Street cat. There are, of course, any number of ways in which this should prove to be relatively straightforward for Bashing Boris.
There was a very interesting piece on the BBC website earlier this week about who would win if a general erection were one to be held today. However, one aspect of it greatly troubles this blogger in a deep and disturbing way; it concerns the following graphic which shows the percentage of each party's vote compared to the same voter's views on Brexit. What Keith Telly Topping wants to know is, who the Hell are the one per cent of Brexit Party voters who don't support Britain leaving in the EU? Who are these people? What do they believe in? Do they know that today has a 'y' in it? Is it just that they think that there Nigel Farage has got nice teeth which makes them plan to vote this way? Seriously, dear blog reader, they have got to be the single stupidest one per cent of any collective the world has ever seen; it's like 'Nazis against fascism' or 'Christians who try to see things from The Devils point of view,' it makes no sense!
Also rather troubling was a quote which appeared on the House of Commons website this week credited to the SNP's Stephen Gethins; the only question remaining after reading it being which of the many, many things that are currently arsing-up this country are you actually talking about here, pal? Cos, this blogger could go with Bashing Boris becoming PM, Brexit, Iran getting all stroppy and discombobulated or, indeed, anything to do with Comrade Corbyn on this one ... And, dear blog reader, the list is not all-inclusive.
A member of a conservative US group has been fired after projecting a doctored version of the presidential seal at an event featuring President Rump. A representative for the group, Turning Point USA, told the Washington Post that the fake seal was 'a mistake,' the result of a rushed online search. But while the group called the slip-up 'unacceptable,' they maintained there was no 'malicious intent.' One or two people even believed them.
Meanwhile, in other news from the US ...
School end-of-year parties are often riotous affairs - especially those in Alice Cooper songs - but they rarely end with one hundred stroppy teenagers laying siege to a police station. That was, reportedly, the scene in the lakeside Bavarian town of Starnberg on Thursday night, after police were called to a party and arrested a boy, described as 'drunk and aggressive.' The teen was put in a cell, prompting schoolmates to seek his release. Police said that the crowd threw bottles and tried to break down the front door. First reports of trouble came at 9:45pm local time, hours into a summer party at Starnberg's Gymnasium school, to which students, teachers and friends had been invited. According to the school, a private party was taking place on a footpath just outside the school and that is where things got out of hand. A fifteen-year-old boy had approached a security guard asking for drugs and had 'gone on the rampage,' police claimed. The Fuzz were called but the schoolboy, who was described as drunk, 'remained aggressive' and was ordered to leave the party. When he refused to comply, 'policy custody was all that remained,' they claimed. Some of the boy's friends 'tried to intervene' and one of them reportedly tried to kick a policeman. In the head. By the time the officers had reached the police station, a crowd of up to one hundred teens had formed outside. The head teacher was unable to say whether any pupils from his school were among them. Around fifty people threw bottles and stones and some of them tried to force their way in to free the arrested chap. A window was broken and the police sign at the entrance was torn down, a police statement said. Some seventy extra police were called in and a nineteen year old was temporarily detained on suspicion of trying to release a prisoner and damaging property. Security at Starnberg police station was stepped up for the rest of the night. As for the fifteen-year-old who sparked the riotous assembly, reports say that he was 'handed over to his parents' and 'taken to hospital for treatment for a headache.' He tested positive for alcohol and drugs, Süddeutsche Zeitung said.
This blogger ordered a - rather darza - new pair of trainers online earlier this week; and, lo, they were delivered to Stately Telly Topping Manor the following day (Keith Telly Topping spent a thoroughly fascinating couple of hours tracking the Yodel driver's progress around various parts of Gatesheed, Waalsend and East Newcastle before he arrived at the gaff!) Technically, they cost this blogger nowt since he used a couple of the Argos gift cards he gets for filling in a weekly online shopping questionnaire. And, they fit, dear blog reader! Miraculously. Sometimes, this blogger likes the Modern World.
On Tuesday morning this blogger was in McDonald's sitting down to his tasty Sausage 'n' Egg McMuffinisation and a cappuccino on, like the hottest day since the beginning of recorded time when the first song played over the tannoy was 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. I mean, that's just taking the piss, surely ...
The heat has been truly oppressive in the UK this week, dear blog reader. You might have noticed. And, the drums never cease. Some people have, apparently, been getting reet vexed about the temperature and what a right shite state of affairs it is when it's aal hot and sweaty.
Still, others it would seem have the right idea.