Sunday, July 14, 2019

Suspicion Always Haunts The Guilty Mind

We start the latest From The North bloggerisationisms update, dear blog reader, with a question. Why, dear blog reader? Why, for the love of God, why? Sorry, that's three questions. Nevertheless, having got those out of the way, let's crack on with all the latest top telly news. And, answers on a postcard to the usual address, if you'd be so kind.
The Doctor will 'battle old villains The Cybermen in a plot that is the stuff of classic horror,' it has been claimed. Mind you, this was according to the Daily Mirra so there's a more than decent chance this is a load of made-up bollocks since their reputation for truthful and accurate reportage is usually lower than rattlesnakes piss. At least, since they stopped hacking people's phones to get their stories, that is. Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord reportedly 'clashes' with The Cybermen in the Nineteenth Century in 'a darker new series' out next year. The plot is said to involve the part-human, part-machine monsters inspiring the author Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. An alleged - though, suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' allegedly said: 'This new run is much scarier than Jodie's first year and will ­definitely put the frighteners on fans. Things are about to get darker for The Doctor.' Yes, that sounds like exactly like the sort of 'real people don't talk like that' rubbish which the tabloids usually claim as a direct quote from someone when, actually, it's been made up by a journalist. The Cybermen have not been seen since they appeared in Peter Capaldi's final episode at Christmas 2017. They first appeared opposite William Hartnell in 1966's The Tenth Planet. (You knew that, right?) Chris Chibnall, who took over from The lord Thy God (OBE) Steven Moffat as showrunner in 2018, did not use any old monsters in his first series although a Dalek did feature in the New Year's Day special, Resolution. Chib has since dropped hints that Jodie's second series will feature some familiar faces. The Daily Lies also has a variant on this story with the horrendously obvious clickbait headline Jodie Whittaker Could Be Replaced In Doctor Who As Killer Cybermen Return. 'Back in 2017, The Cybermen shot Capaldi's twelfth Doctor and caused him to regenerate into Whittaker. Does that mean fans will be seeing a new Doctor already, or could Jodie Whittaker's character take them down?' asked the author of this piece of abject diarrhoea, one Jack Wetherill. Tell you what Jackie, this blogger is quite prepared to bet you a thousand quid that it's the latter, how about that?
The Metro meanwhile, also published a Doctor Who-related story this week, with the utterly unmissable news that Jodie Whittaker and Matt Smith 'survived any possible chaos as they both attended Henley Festival on Friday night.' Jodie and Smudger were pictured arriving - separately, so, presumably there were two TARDISes parked around the back - as guests of Audi to the black-tie festival in Henley-on-Thames, where Tom Odell was set to perform and Jo Whiley was scheduled for a DJ set. Jodie 'looked chic in a polka dot midi dress with a floral collar, teamed with cage heels, a red handbag and large sunglasses.' Meanwhile, Smudger was 'all suave in a suit and bow tie, paired with tinted sunnies, as he attended the bash on the arm of sister Laura Jayne, who went all out in an embroidered white and blush tulle gown.' Apparently. And, this shite constitutes 'news', apparently. Does anyone else remember when newspapers used to be written by grown-ups?
When she left the TARDIS in 2012, Karen Gillan could reasonably have thought she had left reacting to terrifying Doctor Who monsters behind her. She was a movie star now, after all. She had been in The Avengers, surely all that running up and down corridors was all in the past? Alas, if Doctor Who teaches us anything, dear blog reader, it's that your past has a way of catching up with you. Which is why, this weekend, Kazza only went and found herself face-to-face with a Weeping Angel. In reality, Kazza encountered her fast-moving old stone foe while she was visiting the home of her old boos, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE). As blog readers will know, The Moff has, for many years, possessed a Weeping Angel in his back garden. Why? Because he can.
As previously mentioned on this blog this week saw the one hundredth anniversary on the birth of Mister Pertwee and was celebrated by a fine BBC radio documentary, The Jon Pertwee Files, narrated by the subject's son, Sean. While celebrating the Mister Pertwee Centenary, however, let us not forget that the chap was also responsible for one of the greatest LP cover of all time.
In the last bloggerisationisms update, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping mentioned that the charity David Bowie anthology Me & The Starman - to which this blogger had contributed an essay - was shortly to become available. Well, now it is - you can order copies via or, internationally, amazon. Seriously, dear blog reader, you need a copy of this book in your life. When has this blogger ever led you astray previously? Okay, don't answer that ...
From The North favourite Peaky Blinders series five is looming large on the horizon - we've already had the first look at Tommy Shelby's nascent parliamentary career and the series premiere is next Thursday in Birmingham. According to series regular Packy Lee, the new series - which he believes is 'by far' the best to date - could split fan opinion with some 'big, big scenes' and that there is now 'a lot more at stake' for the Shelby family and their allies. Lee, who plays Johnny Dogs, was reflecting on how his role's expanded over the series from what was supposed to be a single day's filming and why he has stuck around for so long. 'I have asked them several times why they brought me back and they said it was my energy and the comic relief that came out of my character,' Lee told Belfast Live. 'It is something they wanted to exploit. And believe me, they have exploited it in season five. I can't give too much away, but there are a few funny scenes,' Lee continued. 'And some big, big scenes which we don't know how people are going to take them.'
The Daily Scum Express has claimed - based, seemingly, on one stray line of dialogue in one the series two episodes of Killing Eve - that 'Villanelle's secret sister [has been] revealed.' Has she? Get used to this sort of speculative crap, dear blog reader, you're going to be bombarded with it until the third series begins filming later in the year.
George RR Martin has revealed a few details about the forthcoming Game Of Thrones prequel, saying that while there may be fewer dragons in the HBO show, there will be direwolves, mammoths and White Walkers. The serial, which is currently being filmed in Northern Ireland, takes places thousands of years before the events in Game Of Thrones and 'chronicles the world's descent from the golden age of heroes into its darkest hour,' according to HBO. Naomi Watts will star as 'a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret,' with Miranda Richardson also part of the cast. Jane Goldman and Martin himself are the show's creators, with Goldman the showrunner. Martin said last year that the series would show Westeros 'as a very different place,' with no King's Landing, no Iron Throne and no Targaryens. 'Valyria has hardly begun to rise yet with its dragons and the great empire that it built,' he told Entertainment Weekly. On Tuesday, he revealed that the Stark family would definitely appear in the prequel, adding: 'Obviously the White Walkers are here - or as they’re called in my books, The Others - and that will be an aspect of it [along with] things like direwolves and mammoths.' The show will, however, predate the Lannisters, with another family living in the home they occupy in Game Of Thrones. 'The Lannisters aren't there yet, but Casterly Rock is certainly there; it's like the Rock of Gibraltar,' he said. 'It's actually occupied by the Casterlys - whom it's still named after in the time of Game Of Thrones.' The novelist also revealed that the Westeros of five thousand years ago would be split into one hundred different fiefdoms. 'We talk about the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros; there were Seven Kingdoms at the time of Aegon's Conquest,' he said. 'But if you go back further, then there are nine kingdoms and twelve kingdoms and, eventually, you get back to where there are one hundred kingdoms - petty kingdoms - and that's the era we're talking about here.' Martin is currently writing The Winds Of Winter, the long-awaited sixth novel in his series. In May, he promised he would have finished writing it by summer 2020, when he travels to New Zealand for a convention. 'If I don't have The Winds Of Winter in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for Worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulphuric acid, until I'm done. Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I'll be fine,' he wrote on his website.
There were always wild rumours floating around about Game Of Thrones, whether it be the character of Lady Stoneheart appearing or various conspiracies about George RR Martin having already completed his Song Of Ice & Fire books. She didn't and, so far, he hasn't by the way. One of the most infamous involved the reason that two Game Of Thrones actors didn't appear to have many scenes together. For years, there have been stories that Lena Headey, who played Cersei and Jerome Flynn, who played Bronn, were not on speaking terms and didn't appear on-screen together due to a failed previous relationship. On Friday of this week, that tale was finally shot down as Jerome took the stage at Con of Thrones, with Insider's Kim Renfro as moderator. The interview was mostly light hearted until one gormless plank in the audience asked about the rumour, saying: 'As we know that apparently you and Lena Headey couldn't be in the same scene together, I wonder how did you guys manage this logistically? Was it the source of any troubles on the set or production?' The audience let out a collective groan; however, Jerome was classy enough to address this rude and insensitive question with the dignity that it scarcely deserved. 'We were, actually, in the same scene together,' he said. 'And the last time I saw Lena we were speaking, so I wouldn't believe everything you read and like I said, [the media] can get pretty desperate for stories.' 'Stick to the reported facts,' Renfro said. Jerome added: 'Lena's a wonderful person and a wonderful actress.' Whatever awkwardness was caused by the question quickly dissipated as Jerome continued to take on whatever damned-fool question the audience could come up with. 'What did Bronn do his first day at Highgarden?' asked one person, to which Jerome said that he probably 'just got bored and called up Tyrion.' Another inquired: 'How do you plan on managing all the coin for King's Landing when you can't read or write?' 'Do you want to go outside?' Jerome challenged, as if this pillock had just said the second Robson & Jerome CD was 'a bit crap, really'. 'I don't think you need to read or write to look after coin,' he added. Rumours of the supposed Headey-Flynn feud spread online in 2014 and, again, surfaced as recently as the series finale in May.
This week has also seen the release of the first poster for the forthcoming Amazon Prime Video Star Trek: Picard series. Most speculation in Star Trek fandom at present seems to be focused around what the dog's called. It's 'Number One', by the way.
Further to the recent announcement that From The North comic favourite The Sandman is to be adapted into a Netflix TV series. Since the announcement was first made the Interweb has been full of speculative articles on what aspects of the comic plotlines the TV series is likely to attempt. Take, this piece on the Den Of Geek! website, for example. Or, another from IGN. Neil Gaiman has, reportedly, already confirmed that the initial eleven episode Sandman series-arc will adapt the first volume of the comics - Preludes & Nocturnes - plus 'a little bit more.'
Speaking of Neil Gaiman, when he was asked by the Daily Scum Express in June about the chances of a second series of Good Omens, Neil sounded fairly firm about staying away from Hollywood for a while. 'So far, Good Omens has taken me four years, or five years since I promised Terry [Pratchett] I'd make it,' he explained. 'In that five years I haven't been writing novels. I have a wife who has not seen enough of me for the last few years and is looking forward to me being at home.' If - and, it's looking like a very small 'if' - Neil does get on board, then Michael Sheen would happily follow. 'It'd have to be by Neil, I suppose and it would depend on what it was, really. But yeah, I'd come back,' he told Radio Times. 'I love the character and I love the world of it. It's very enjoyable working with David [Tennant] and the rest of the team.'
The BBC have released another image of Claes Bang as the eponymous lead in yer actual Mark Gatiss and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE)'s forthcoming adaptation of Dracula.
Star Trek: Discovery's producer has talked about the possibility of seeing Mister Spock (Ethan Peck), Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) after their introduction in series two. Alex Kurtzman spoke about fan speculation that the three characters 'could' appear in a spin-off and, it seems, it is an idea that has been discussed. 'I would be remiss in saying you're going to see Spock again on Discovery because we've obviously jumped so far into the future that it wouldn't make sense,' Kurtzman told Deadline's Crew Call podcast. 'But the idea of bringing Ethan back and Anson and Rebecca and the Enterprise, I mean, we loved it so much and to find a way to do that is definitely something we're thinking about.' Peck and Mount have previously expressed interest in returning, the former telling TV Guide earlier this year: 'I would like to come back, because being a part of Star Trek is like magic. It's funny, I think Star Trek is so divisive amongst people in the world that are like, "Never seen it, not interested." And, those that do see it are very attached and find themselves very connected with it. To be a part of something like that is just really special. Now I feel like I've done a lot of the groundwork and Spock is very much a part of me. I'm the same but different having finished it. So would I like to continue? Yeah. I think it would be great.'
NBC has announced that the seventh series of From The North favourite The Blacklist will return to TV in the US on Friday 4 October.
Now, dear blog reader, if - for some unexplained reason - you happen to be searching for an atypical example of the Gruniad Morning Star at their most objectionable sneering, condescending and, frankly, punchable, please allow this blogger to offer you this tawdry piece of rancid phlegm from one Sirin Kale - whoever the Hell they are. Love Island - "Barcelona is in Italy": How Flagrant Stupidity Creates Reality TV Superstars. As an example of horrifying intellectual bullying and sheer tasteless 'look at all the thickies - poke 'em with a stick' nastiness, it really does take ones breath away. The Gruniad Morning Star, dear blog reader. They do the thinking so that you don't have to - and, then they tell you all about how really clever and amusing their 'thinking' was. Hateful.
There have also been of late, as almost impossible as this is to believe, not one, but two articles in the Gruniad criticising, rather than arse-slurping as they usually do, some of the output of Netflix. No, this blogger had real difficulty believing anyone at the Gruniad was even allowed to say anything negative about their beloved Netflix. Is this the break-up of the perfect marriage between the current flavour of the month for Middle Class hippy Communists everywhere and the Gruniadistas? Will they ever be able to make-up and settle down to a nice weekend watching box-sets together again? Does anyone actually care?
Pennyworth is coming to the UK. StarzPlay has acquired the UK rights to Epix's Batman prequel series after striking a deal with Warner Brothers International Television Distribution. The series will premiere on the streaming service later this year. Pennyworth follows Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, a former British SAS soldier, who forms a security company and goes to work with a young billionaire Thomas Wayne in 1960s London. The drama series, which hails from Gotham creator Bruno Heller and is based on DC characters created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger, is produced by Warner Horizon Scripted Television and stars Jack Bannon, Ben Aldridge, Paloma Faith, Jason Flemyng, Ryan Fletcher, Hainsley Lloyd Bennett, Emma Paetz, Polly Walker and Emma Corrin. Pennyworth was shot in the UK at Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden. The trailer has already been released and, actually, looks quite good. In addition to the UK market, Starz's streaming service has also secured rights to Pennyworth for Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and Latin America. At StarPlay UK, the show joins a growing slate of first run US acquisitions that includes Syfy's Deadly Class, The Spanish Princess, Vida, Sweetbitter, Hulu's Castle Rock, Harlots, The Act and Mister Mercedes.
Alison Steadman, Peter Davison, Adrian Lester, Victoria Hamilton and Rachael Stirling have been cast in Life, the BBC's upcoming six episode drama series from Doctor Foster and Trauma author Mike Bartlett. Life explores four separate, 'deeply human and surprising stories' to tell 'a larger story about what happens when we decide to step out of our own personal space and take a closer look into other people's lives.' The series unfolds in a large divided house in Manchester and will take a look into each of the flats and at the belief in the human capacity to connect, to care, to love and to change. Steadman has been cast as Gail, who is about to celebrate her seventieth birthday when a chance encounter throws her whole life into question; Davison plays Henry, Gail's husband; Lester is David, a happily married man is conflicted by temptation when he meets another woman on holiday; Hamilton is Belle, a pilates teacher whose neatly ordered life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of her chaotic fifteen year old niece and Stirling plays Kelly, David's wife. Saira Choudhry, Erin Kellyman, Melissa Johns, Calvin Demba, Elaine Paige and Susannah Fielding also appear.
ITV has renewed Grantchester for a fifth series. The period drama, which is co-produced by PBS Masterpiece for the US market, will be back for a further six episodes. Grantchester is set in the 1950s and follows an unlikely crime-fighting duo – Reverend Will Davenport and gruff, down-to-earth Police Inspector Geordie Keating. Produced by Kudos, it stars Tom Brittney, Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, Al Weaver, Tessa Peake-Jones and Kacey Ainsworth. Original co-lead James Norton exited the series as Sidney Chamber last series and was replaced by Brittney as Reverend Will Davenport. The show's fifth series will be set in 1957, the year Harold Macmillan told the British people that they had never been having it. Production will get underway this summer in Cambridgeshire. The series is based on the novels by James Runcie and was adapted for television by Daisy Coulam. The scripts for the new season are being written by Coulam, John Jackson, Carey Andrews, Jake Riddell and Joshua St Johnston. Richard Cookson is the series producer, while Gordon Anderson is attached to direct.
Supermarket Sweep is reported to be making a comeback. ITV2 has ordered a reboot of the game show which will be hosted by that objectionable twenty four carat plank Rylan Clark-Neal. Twenty episodes have been commissioned, which will be stripped weekly across four weeks. Truly, dear blog reader, there is no God.
NBC's drama series Manifest will receive its UK premiere on Sky One on Tuesday 30 July. Manifest tells the story of Montego Air Flight 828. When it landed safely after a turbulent but apparently routine flight, the crew and passengers are relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years and their friends, families and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope of ever seeing them again. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realise they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible. So, it's bits of Lost and Flashforward and The Event and The Returned, then? The drama series stars Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, JR Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina and Parveen Kaur. NBC has recently renewed Manifest for a second series.
The brother of a man who was caught up in the Windrush scandal has written a BBC drama to tell his story. Stephen S Thompson's Sitting In Limbo is about Anthony Bryan, who moved from Jamaica at the age of eight in 1965, but discovered in 2016 there was no record of him as a British citizen. 'As his brother, I saw what he went through first-hand,' Thompson said. 'Anthony has been severely traumatised by the experience. I couldn't bear the idea that he had suffered in vain.' The drama will be a feature-length film and the writer added: 'For me, this is personal.' Despite having lived in the UK since childhood, Bryan had never held a passport until he attempted to visit his elderly mother in Jamaica three years ago. An estimated five hundred thousand people now living in the UK who arrived from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971 have been called the Windrush generation, in reference to the ship that brought the first West Indies workers to the UK. They were granted indefinite leave to remain in 1971, but thousands were children travelling on their parents' passports, without their own documents. Changes to immigration law in 2012 meant that those without documents were asked for 'evidence' to continue working, access services or even to remain in the UK. The crackdown was blamed on the 'hostile environment for illegal immigrants' promised by then Home Secretary and, later, soon-to-be-former Prime Minister Theresa May. With the onus on Bryan to prove his status to the Immigration Office, he was forced to leave his job and was unable to claim any benefits before being detained as an illegal immigrant. 'It has badly affected his confidence and left him questioning his very identity,' added Thompson - whose first novel Toy Soldiers, a semi-autobiographical account of his adolescence, was published in 2000. Piers Wenger, the controller of BBC Drama, said that Bryan's story was 'incredibly important and one that needs to be told with urgency.'
In the week of the fiftieth anniversary of man first landing on the Moon, From The North's favourite of the - many - media pieces on the 1969 event and its coverage is by the BBC's James Jeffrey and his thoughtful, compelling Apollo 11: 'The Greatest Single Broadcast In Television History'. It's certainly well worth a few moments of your time.
The BBC's director general has warned that the world is facing 'the biggest assault on truth since the 1930s.' Speaking at the Global Conference For Media Freedom in London this week, Tony Hall said: 'An assault on truth is an assault on democracy.' He compared the spread of 'fake news' to propaganda used by the Nazi party in the build-up to the Second World War. 'All those who believe in integrity in news must work together to turn the tide,' he said. Lord Hall added that the BBC had 'a role to play' in battling fake news and press repression across the world. 'We are ready to do even more to promote freedom of expression worldwide,' he said. He told the conference: 'We need to reassert the core principles of good journalism like never before. In a sea of disinformation and partisan reporting, we need to stand up for independence, impartiality, and reporting without fear or favour.' He added: 'I'm determined that we use that unique reach and trusted voice to lead the way - to create a global alliance for integrity in news.' Also on the conference panel were UK Foreign Secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt, as well as human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, currently serving at the pleasure of Her Majesty. Clooney said: 'The current media crisis involves both the silencing of truth and the amplification of misinformation to levels we have never seen before. I believe the way the world responds to this crisis will define our generation and determine whether democracy can survive.' Last month, Assange's legal team branded the US extradition case against him 'an outrageous and full-frontal assault on journalistic rights,' as a court ordered him to face a full extradition hearing next year.
The Specials - a particular rock and/or roll favourite of this blogger - are celebrating their fortieth anniversary this week with four sell-out home-coming concerts in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. The opening night was one to remember for two thousand lucky fans, as Terry and the boys returned to the city where Two-Tone was born. Though, apparently, they didn't go down well with everyone.
In 2017 the surviving members of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band discovered that in 2015 an entity had registered their name as a 'figurative trademark'; the name which they have been associated with since the 1960s when they had a Paul McCartney-produced hit 'I'm the Urban Spaceman' and appeared in the TV shows Do Not Adjust Your Set and The Magical Mystery Tour. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band trademark registration legally entitles the owner to both the name and the 'associated goodwill' and was registered without the consent or the knowledge of the band. As a result of the grant of the trademark, The Bonzos may never be able to record or perform a concert under their own name again. In the two years which have elapsed since this dispute began one member of the band, Sam Spoons, has sadly passed away (founder member Viv Stanshall, of course, died in 1995). The remaining members of band are challenging the decision to grant the trademark. This, it would appear, is not an isolated incident. The 1980's pop band Modern Romance - known for their hits 'Best Years Of Our Lives', 'The Queen Of The Rapping Scene' and 'Everybody Salsa' - recently they had to fight a two year legal battle to get back their name. They lost thousands of pounds worth of live work after someone registered Modern Romance as a trademark without their permission. Aside from the stress and loss of earnings the battle also cost them twenty grand in legal fees. Under current UK legislation anyone can register a band's name - and thus, their Intellectual Property - by simply logging on to the Intellectual Property Office website, paying a fee of two hundred notes and ticking a box that confirms they are the 'owner' of the name. The IPO does not ask applicants to provide any evidence of ownership and, unless the name has already been registered, a trademark is usually granted to the applicant. The next time the rightful owner decides to use the name, they can then be, effectively, held to ransom by the new owner. The surviving members of The Bonzos - Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin Spear, Neil Innes, Legs Larry Smith and Vernon Dudley Bowhay-Nowell have, since 2017, been trying to prove their claim to the name they invented. There does seem to be something faintly ridiculous about the idea that the people who made four of the best LPs on the 1960s - Gorilla, The Doughnut In Granny's Greenhouse, this blogger's own personal favourite Tadpoles and Keynsham cannot, currently, legally called themselves by the name they've been using since 1966 without paying 'some bloke' money to do so. That the men who wrote and played on 'Cool Britannia', 'Death Cab For Cutie', 'Canyons Of Your Mind', 'Mister Slater's Parrot', 'The Intro & The Outro', 'Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?', 'Shirt', 'Mister Apollo' and 'You Done My Brain In' need to prove they deserve to use their own name. To make matters worse The Bonzos are also, apparently, facing a lawsuit by the trademark owner which asserts the band does not own the name and that their attempt to win it back through the IPO Tribunal service amounts to 'a fraudulent conspiracy.' The band are vigorously contesting this costly claim. Even when the Bonzo's win - as they almost certainly will - the case, the legal loophole in the UKs Trademark laws that threatens artists and their intellectual property in every sphere of the industry will remain. In the light of this fact The Bonzos, Modern Romance and the Musician's Union are working together to highlight, in Westminster, the issue of the faulty trademark legislation. A number of MPs have taken up the cause to change the law so that trademark applicants have to provide clear evidence of ownership when they register the name of a band. Already a question has been asked of the Right Honourable Chris Skidmore MP who is the minister responsible for this particular legislation. The band have launched a campaign to raise an initial three grand to attempt to win back the name via the IPO Tribunal service. 'This is an issue critical to every performing artist in the country,' said the band in a statement. 'Whatever you can give will be put towards ensuring that these National Treasures are able to retain the name that they believe is rightfully theirs, as well as amending the arcane legislation which is currently ripe for exploitation and causing widespread harm and expense to the artistic community in the UK.'
Bob Dylan and Neil Young co-headlined a UK gig for the first time in Hyde Park on Friday. 'I've never played in daylight before!' joked Neil, who went on first, adding 'it's great to see everybody.' The event, which was originally billed as part of the 'Barclaycard Presents BST' series, went ahead as a concert without any sponsorship after Neil refused to perform at a festival bearing the name of what he described as 'a fossil fuel-funding entity.' On site, fans applauded the Canadian rocker's decision to make an environmental point. Neil strolled on stage and strapped on his battered old Les Paul, its strap adorned with peace logos, as a material bird hovered above his head and a Love sign was displayed near his amp. The historic first coming together of two of rock's premiere protest singers on British soil occurred on the same day that many other similarly politically green-minded (if, nowhere near as famous) musicians, including Radiohead, Foals and Hot Chip - no, dear blog reader, me neither - called on the government to 'take action' over climate change. Which, obviously, they government have no intention  whatsoever of doing just because that miserable tosser Thom Yorke ordered them to. I mean, point of principle and all that. Now, if it had been Johnny Marr, that would've been a different matter entirely. Neil was forced to scrap a string of UK gigs back in 2013 due to an injury to one of his Crazy Horse bandmates, but this time he was backed by The Promise of the Real, featuring Willie Nelson's son Lukas. Their tight-knit rhythmic jamming allowed the guitarist to show he can still cut loose on old favourites including 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere', 'Alabama', 'Winterlong' and 'Old Man'. There were loud cheers when the old acoustic guitar and harmonica came out for a rendition of 'Heart of Gold'. The first half of the night ended with the extended 'Rockin' in the Free World', before Young and his band returned for an encore which included a hypnotic 'Like A Hurricane'. Young and his hero, Dylan, had played on-stage together previously in 1992 - alongside Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash - at a New York gig to mark thirty years of the Dylan's music and before that at their friends The Band's finale gig in 1976, which was captured on film by Martin Scorsese in The Last Waltz. As anyone who saw Scorsese's recent semi-fictional Dylan tour film, Rolling Thunder Revue, will testify, the ten-time Grammy winner has been keeping fans and band members alike on their toes his whole career and this show was no different. Dylan walked on unannounced, sat down at the piano and burst straight into 'Ballad Of A Thin Man'. While Young had ripped through a set of largely record-faithful live versions of his songs, Dylan - who appears to no longer play the guitar - reworked many of his songs in different styles, keys and with different melodies. Part of the challenge of seeing him perform in 2019 is picking out the correct tune before ones neighbour does. All of this prevented any mass singalongs from breaking out early on as the crowd - which included Noel Gallagher and Jarvis Cocker - watched a delighted Dylan re-paint his masterpieces live, getting up on his feet several times to strike some Elvis-esque hip-shaking poses. But, by the start of 'Like A Rolling Stone' most punters had gained the confidence to belt out the song's original vocal melody together in harmony like a giant choir backing the singer's own, somewhat off-kilter delivery. These days, the seventy eight-year-old's deeper voice seems to suit the bluesier numbers - like 'Highway 61 Revisited' and 'It Ain't Me, Babe' - more than the ballads, although his heartfelt efforts on 'Simple Twist Of Fate', 'Girl From The North Country' (this blogger's own favourite Dylan tune) and 'To Make You Feel My Love' reminded the audience of why Dylan is still such a draw. Dylan's on-stage patter is non-existent, but one thing which remains undiminished is his ability to play the harmonica and, while some of best-loved songs were omitted, such is his arsenal it would have been impossible to send everybody home happy. After a long day of music in the sun, large sections of the crowd began to lose interest as Dylan embarked on a hat-trick of later career tunes, although he soon won them back with an upbeat 'You've Gotta Serve Somebody', followed by an encore of 'Blowin' In The Wind' and 'It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry'.
Mattel has unveiled a Ziggy Stardust Barbie to 'celebrate' (for which read 'cash in on') the fiftieth anniversary of the release of 'Space Oddity' - as this hilariously rubbish article (which claims that 'The Laughing Gnome' was a UK top ten hit in 1967) details. Just the thing for forty- and fifty-something Bowie fan ... who still play with dolls.
The first management contract signed by The Be-Atle (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) with Brian Epstein has sold for two hundred and seventy five thousand knicker at auction. To someone with more money than sense, obviously. Yer actual Paul McCartney, George Harrison, original drummer Pete Best and the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie, signed the document on 24 January 1962. It gave Epstein responsibility for finding the band work and managing their schedule and publicity. The document was the first of two contracts drawn up between Epstein and The Be-Atles. The contract outlines Epstein's fee would be ten per cent, rising to fifteen per cent if their earnings should exceed one hundred and twenty smackers a week. Paul McCartney had, according to legend, negotiated Epstein's fee down from twenty per cent. After Best left the band, another contract was signed on 1 October 1962 with Ringo Starr and Epstein taking a bigger percentage of their earnings. The lot was sold to help raise money for the Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation.
The Kinks - a 'punk-rock band' according to some clueless waste-of-space smear of no consequence at the Independent - are 'planning to reunite' after twenty years apart. The 'legendary punk-rock group originally split up in 1996 after tensions hit an all-time high between Ray [Davies] and his brother Dave,' writes one Ilana Kaplan. Who is, presumably, twelve. In a new interview with Channel Four News, Ray has stated that he is 'making a new Kinks album' with Dave and with drummer Mick Avory. 'The trouble is, the two remaining members, my brother Dave and Mick, never got along very well,' Ray said. 'But I've made that work in the studio and it's fired me up to make them play harder and with fire.' The seventy four-year-old singer revealed that a reunion was 'inspired' by seeing The Rolling Stones on their recent UK tour. Making shitloads of money. 'It won't be well-organised like The Rolling Stones. The Kinks will probably be playing the local bar,' he noted. Ray had half-promised a reunion in 2014 in an interview with The Sunday Times saying: 'I met Dave only last week to talk about getting together again. We've also spoken a few times on the phone and e-mailed.' Ray and Dave did reunite onstage to perform 'You Really Got Me' at The Islington Assembly Hall in December 2015, the first time they had played together in public in over twenty years. Since the band split, in 1996, Ray has released six solo CDs, including Americana in 2017. Anyway, Ilana, let's get back to this claim that The Kinks were a 'punk-rock' band ...
Some sort of a heatwave warms the rings of Uranus, even though the planet orbits far away from the Sun is has been reported. New heat images of the planet, obtained by two telescopes in Chile, reveal the temperature of the rings for the first time: minus three hundred and twenty degrees Fahrenheit, or the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen. While that sounds bloody nippy by Earthly standards, consider that most of space is much colder, approaching a temperature at which atoms stop moving. This point is called absolute zero, which is roughly minus four hundred and sixty degrees. Uranus itself is located far out in the solar system, where the planet receives only a fraction of the heat from the sun that the Earth receives. You knew that, right? The ice giant orbits our star at an average distance of nineteen astronomical units, with each AU equivalent to the average distance from the Earth to the Sun, around ninety three million miles. The scientists who captured the new images said that they are 'not sure' what is causing the - relative - warmth. But the temperature proves that the brightest and densest ring at Uranus (also known as 'the epsilon ring') is very different from other ring systems in our solar system. Every giant planet - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - has its own set of rings, though Saturn's are, by far, the most spectacular and best-understood. That's because they are easily visible even with just a small telescope and because NASA's Cassini mission studied them up close and in depth. But Saturn's rings are quite different from those at Uranus. 'Saturn's mainly icy rings are broad [and] bright and have a range of particle sizes, from micron-sized dust in the innermost D ring, to tens of meters [or feet] in size in the main rings,' study co-author Imke de Pater, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement. 'The small end is missing in the main rings of Uranus. The brightest ring, epsilon, is composed of golf ball-sized and larger rocks.' The epsilon ring also differs from rings observed at the other giant planets. Jupiter's rings are made of particles which are roughly a thousandth of a millimetre each in diameter, while Neptune's rings are made up almost entirely of dust. The epsilon ring doesn't even look like the main rings of Uranus, as huge tracts of dust lie in between them. 'We already know that the epsilon ring is a bit weird, because we don't see the smaller stuff,' lead author and graduate student Edward Molter, said in the same statement. 'Something has been sweeping the smaller stuff out, or it's all glomming together. We just don't know. This is a step toward understanding [the rings'] composition and whether all of the rings came from the same source material or are different for each ring.' Great word 'glomming'; this blogger should use it far more often. Another mystery is how Uranus and the other giant planets acquired their rings in the first place. Perhaps one or more moons got too close to the planet and broke apart, as is the probable fate of Mars' moon Phobos. Perhaps moons crashed into each other and broke into pieces, which could one day happen again at Jupiter, where the orbit of a newly found moon crosses the path of several other, bigger, moons. Or perhaps the rings formed from captured asteroids that crumbled once they came under the influence of a planet's gravity. The rings could also have come from debris left over from the birth of the solar system, four-and-a-half billion years ago. The scientists used Chile's Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array and Very Large Telescope to gather the data used in the new research. But the researchers said they hope still-better information about the oddball Uranian ring will come from NASA's forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope, which could gather data about the elemental composition of the epsilon ring. The research is described in a new paper, accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.
It has been a quarter of a century since the Magellan spacecraft burned up as it plunged into the atmosphere of Venus. The probe's radar mapper, which looked through the planet's clouds, had revealed a rugged surface of high 'continents,' volcanic mountains, domes and deep canyons. Scientists interpreted the chaotic landscape as evidence of massive outpourings of molten rock that repaved the planet's surface hundreds of millions of years ago. Modern-day Venus was considered dead, or almost so - a world whose craggy face had been frozen in time. 'These ideas developed that Venus is geologically dead - it had this catastrophic resurfacing and now is completely devoid of geologic activity,' said Suzanne Smrekar, a senior researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In the past few years, though, planetary scientists have looked at Magellan's observations in new ways, leading them to develop a more nuanced picture of the planet’s history. The Magellan images, combined with observations by more recent orbiters, have provided hints that Venus could still be 'quite active' today. The new findings have whetted the appetites of many researchers for new Venus missions - perhaps a 'Magellan 2.0' orbiter to snap higher-resolution pictures of the surface and make better maps of the planet’s topography or a long-duration balloon that would measure volcanic eruptions through ripples in the planet's atmosphere. Such missions would teach us more not just about Venus, the scientists claim, but also about Earth and a whole class of exoplanets. 'Venus is an Earth-sized planet and now there are Earth-sized planets all over the galaxy,' said Martha Gilmore, a professor of geology at Wesleyan University. 'So now, Venus is even more relevant for that reason.' Venus is described as Earth's sister world. The two planets are about the same size and mass and probably were made from the same mixture of raw ingredients. The surface of Venus, though, is quite different from that of its planetary sibling. 'You're not in Kansas anymore - it's the Oz of the two planets,' said James Head, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University and a member of the Magellan radar team. Magellan revealed that this planetary Oz is paved with volcanic rock. Although other craft had used radar to peek through the obscuring clouds, none did so in such high resolution or for so long. Magellan orbited Venus for more than four years; during the first two, its synthetic aperture radar mapped almost all of the planet's surface, most of it at resolutions of one hundred to two hundred and fifty metres per pixel. Radar images revealed that more than eighty per cent of the surface is volcanic, more than two thirds is covered by volcanic plains, and much of the rest is dominated by tesserae (regions of rugged, deformed terrain that are higher than the average elevation). The images also showed shield volcanoes up to nine kilometres tall, pancake-shaped domes, arachnoids - concentric rings surrounded by fractures that look like spider webs and other intriguing features.The images contained a surprising dearth of impact craters, though. Scientists counted fewer than one thousand of them, relatively evenly distributed across the planet and all looking fairly fresh.
An alleged 'UFO expert' has claimed that NASA's recent photos from Mars captured 'remnants of ancient alien technology.' Which, by the way, they don't. The alleged 'expert' noted that the images 'clearly indicate' that 'a race of intelligent beings' once lived on Mars. But, of course, he was talking absolute bollocks. Not that this stopped some media outlets - most of which are about as trustworthy as the International Business Times - from reporting this horseshit as 'news'. The images from Mars, which were taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, were posted through the space agency's website. According to YouTube user 'WhatsUpInTheSky37' (probably not his or her real name, one supposes), the photos were taken by the rover on SOL 2454, which refers to the solar day in Mars. In the YouTube video, the curiously-named user 'closely analysed' one of the photos due to its 'odd content.' Amidst the various rock formations featured in the image, there were a few objects that stood out. According to the user, these objects could be discarded equipment from NASA. For self-proclaimed 'UFO expert' Scott Waring of ET Data Base, the objects shown in the photo were 'not man-made or natural.' He described one of the objects as a jar that may have fallen on its side. Waring noted that although it looks like a jar, the object most likely had a very different function due to its strange features. For the UFO expert, the objects accidentally photographed by the Curiosity rover can be considered as proof regarding the existence of alien life on Mars. More importantly, since the objects appear mechanical in nature, they may have been used as tools by a race of intelligent alien beings.
A Japanese spacecraft has touched down on a faraway asteroid, where it will collect space rock that may hold clues to how the Solar System evolved. The successful contact with the Ryugu asteroid was met with relief and cheering in the control room at Japan's space agency, JAXA. It is the second touchdown for the robotic Hayabusa-2 craft, which grabbed rocks from the asteroid in February. After blasting a crater into Ryugu, it has returned to pick up fresh rubble. As the samples will come from within the asteroid as opposed to the surface, they will have had reduced exposure to the harsh environment of space. It is hoped the rock will give scientists more data on the origins of the Solar System. Hayabusa-2 is due to bring the specimens back to Earth next year. Ryugu belongs to a particularly primitive type of space rock, left over from the early days of our Solar System It may therefore contain clues about the conditions and chemistry of that time. Hayabusa-2 started its mission to reach Ryugu in 2014, launching from Japan's space port Tanegashima. The asteroid is a nine hundred metres wide space rock, about two hundred and ninety million kilometres from Earth. Asteroids are essentially leftover building materials from the formation of the Solar System. It's also thought they may contain chemical compounds that could have been important for kick-starting life on Earth. They can contain water, organic carbon-rich compounds and precious metals. The last of those has even tempted several companies to look into the feasibility of asteroid mining.
Scientists have captured the first ever image of a phenomenon which Albert Einstein once described as 'spooky action at a distance.' The photo shows a strong form of quantum entanglement, where two particles interact and share their physical states for an instant. It occurs no matter how great the distance between the particles is. The connection is known as 'Bell Entanglement' and underpins the field of quantum mechanics. Paul-Antoine Moreau, of the University of Glasgow's School of Physics and Astronomy, said that the image was '[an elegant demonstration of a fundamental property of nature.' He added: 'It's an exciting result which could be used to advance the emerging field of quantum computing and lead to new types of imaging.' Einstein described quantum mechanics as 'spooky' because of the instantaneous nature of the apparent remote interaction between two entangled particles. The interaction also seemed incompatible with elements of his special theory of relativity. John Bell later formalised the concept by describing in detail a strong form of entanglement exhibiting the feature. Bell Entanglement is now harnessed in practical applications such as quantum computing and cryptography. However, it has never before been captured in a single image. The team of physicists from the University of Glasgow devised a system that fired a stream of entangled photons from a quantum source of light at 'non-conventional' objects. This was displayed on liquid-crystal materials which change the phase of the photons as they pass through.
Just a few short weeks ago, dear blog reader, this blogger's beloved (though, tragically unsellable) Magpies were still being managed by a man whose CV included wining the Champions League, the UEFA Cup (and its successor the Europa League), La Liga (twice), the FA Cup and the Coppa Italia. Now, sadly, Rafa The Gaffer is gone to China. In the period immediately after his departure, however, Newcastle were widely reported - in various media outlets - to be considering replacements that included Mikel Arteta, Patrick Viera, Steven GerrardRoberto Martinez and even Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger (some of these alleged targets, admittedly, being far more credible than others). Now, the players have returned from their summer break to a club currently without a manager, without either of the team's two leading scorers from last season, without any hint of new signings and with a proposed - and widely reported - takeover by rich Arabs looking increasingly like wishful thinking and half-truths on everyone's part. Be careful what you wish for, dear blog reader, it might just come true. Worse yet, the club's latest reported - and, subsequently, confirmed - target to become their new manager is a man the highlight of whose managerial career was getting Birmingham City (twice) and Hull City (twice) promoted - and both also relegated. And,  also managing Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan Not Very Athletic, Crystal Palace, The Mackem Filth, Aston Villains and Sheffield Wednesday. And winning nothing with any of them. Not a sausage. Bugger all. The idea of replacing Rafa Benitez with Steve Bruce is a little like the idea of replacing Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear with Chris Evans. That is, 'what, some idiot actually got paid to come up with this nonsense?'
This blogger is not a fan of Steve Bruce, dear blog reader, he will be perfectly open about that from the off; Brucie was, undeniably, a fine player and had a great - trophy-filled - career with The Scum. But this blogger particularly dislikes the way in which Bruce has seemed happy in the past to play the 'I'm a proud Geordie boy, me' card whenever it has suited him and to quietly forget about it whenever it didn't. As this blogger told the Salut Sunderland website in 2010 when he was asked if it 'hurt' Newcastle fans to see Bruce managing Blunderland at that time: 'Every time there's some bad news story about Newcastle - which isn't infrequently these days - somebody, sooner or later, will get around to asking Bruce for his opinion. And his first line will always be "well, as a Geordie myself ..." whilst, quite literally, squirting salt tears into his eyes from a pipette ... I think he was a good player, mind, don't get me wrong. But, I don't think it's unreasonable to say that his managerial abilities are still, validly, open to question.' Yes, Steve Bruce was born in Corbridge and was, indeed, a Newcastle United supporter as a boy when his family lived in Wallsend (he was a ball boy for the club at the 1974 FA Cup Final, for example). This blogger's father knew Steve Bruce's father, vaguely and this blogger is also acquainted with several people who know the Bruce family and Steve himself personally. All that this blogger has ever heard about Bruce is that he's considered to be, generally speaking, a jolly decent bloke. However, as previously noted, this whole 'I'm a proud Geordie boy, me' thing really gets right on this blogger's tripe. Because, Steve some of us actually have memories longer than the average goldfish. We recall, for instance how, when your career was kicking off at Gillingham in the early 1980s, you had the opportunity to sign for the club you 'loved as a boy' but you chose to sign for Norwich City instead - presumably, because the wages were better. Some of us can also remember one or two very crass public statements you made when you were managing Blunderland about Newcastle fans allegedly 'lacking class.' Anyway, it has been widely reported this week that Newcastle were on the verge of appointing Bruce as their manager - which, many Newcastle fans of this blogger's acquaintance regard as yet another example of the colossal lack of ambition and 'make do' attitude of the club under its current owner. See also, Joe Kinnear, Alan Pardew, John Carver, Steve McClaren, et al. However, in the last couple of days, it has also been reported that Sheffield Wednesday are not particularly keen to let their current manager go and, even, that Newcastle hiring Bruce and his coaching staff could, potentially, cost them more in wages and a 'compensation package' than keeping Rafa The Gaffer and his staff would have. Another fine example of Newcastle's owner Mike Ashley's habit of, seemingly, knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Bruce has, the Sun claim, told the Championship club he wants to quit Sheffield for Th' Toon. Well, of course he does, who wouldn't want to leave a job in the second tier of English football for the Premiership? However, Wednesday's owner, Thai tycoon Dejphon Chansiri, made sure that there was a compensation clause in Bruce's contract when he joined The Owls in January 'just in case a Premier League club came in for him,' the Sun states. Bruce, allegedly, held talks with Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley on Wednesday in Manchester. By Thursday lunchtime, those alleged to be 'in the know' (so, that was 'some people on Sky Sports,' basically) were 'confident' that an agreement would follow 'soon' and that Bruce would take charge of United's first team in their opening game in the Asian Cup against Wolves in China next Wednesday. Alleged 'sources' allegedly claim that Bruce and Charnley's alleged chat allegedly 'went well' and that Bruce was allegedly 'excited' about the St James’ Park job. But if he does get the job, has less than four weeks before the transfer window shuts and Newcastle are the only club in the Premier League yet to make any new signing. Bruce will also walk into a storm of barely concealed loathing at St James' with many fans utterly furious with Ashley over Bruce's imminent appointment and the replacement of someone who was as widely respected as Rafa with a journeyman with as little on his managerial CV to brag about as Bruce has. Although, his record of getting teams relegated to and then - one or two of them - promoted from the Championship may, one supposes, come in handy at Newcastle over the next couple of years. Still, one supposed it could have been worse. It could have been Sam Allardyce. And, according to Fat Sam himself, it almost was. As the website noted with sighing resignation, 'could this be any more embarrassing?' To which, of course, the answer is, 'don't say that, you'll only give Ashley ideas.'
England surged into their first World Cup final for twenty seven years with a properly sensational eight-wicket demolition of Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday. England's first win in a World Cup knockout match since 1992 was secured over the defending champions on a day which will live long in the memory of fans, justifiably alongside anything from the 2005 Ashes or the 2010-11 tour of Australia. It was built on a riotous opening seven overs, when Australia were reduced to fourteen for three by the new-ball brilliance of Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer. Steve Smith, so often England's nemesis in the past, held Australia together with a steady eighty five, helping Australia to a total of two hundred and twenty three which at least gave them something to bowl at. But home nerves over the menacing presence of Mitchell Starc were soon allayed by a prolific opening partnership between Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, who added one hundred and twenty four for the first wicket. Roy crashed eighty five before Joe Root (forty nine not out) and Eoin Morgan (forty five not out) saw England to their target with almost eighteen overs to spare. The ease of England's progression to the final was such a contrast to the group-stage defeat by Australia which left them, at the time, on the brink of elimination. Following that disappointment, they have since beaten India and New Zealand and turned in this, their best performance of the tournament to date. Until Saturday's final round of group games - and, Australia's surprising loss to South Africa - England were set to play India in this match. Although they would never admit it, the opportunity to play their oldest enemies at a ground where Australia have not won since 2001 and England where had won their previous ten matches appeared almost too good to be true. The toss seemed like a huge boost for Aaron Finch's men - batting first has, broadly speaking, been a big advantage in the tournament - but that was to discount the carnage which would follow. A rocking Edgbaston exploded with noise as Finch, David Warner and Peter Handscomb were removed, cheers that were matched in volume by the boos for the previously banned ball-tampering cheats Warner and Smith. Although Smith ensured what the crowd knew could have been a tricky chase - they cheered as Roy stoutly defended Starc's first over - Roy then injected belief with an outrageous flick for six off the left-armer. As it became clearer that England were strolling, the party moved through the gears. Starc was serenaded with the song which once tortured Mitchell Johnson and The Hollies Stand howled in delight as Smith was launched for three consecutive sixes by Roy. By the end, as the rain started to fall, the whole of Edgbaston was telling the world their belief that cricket was 'coming home.' This was just about a complete display by England, who were magnificent with the ball, sharp in the field and dominant with the bat. Woakes (three for twenty) and Archer (two for thirty two) nipped the new ball around on a full length and looked likely to take a wicket with most deliveries. Archer trapped Finch LBW with his first ball, Woakes got one to climb sharply and Warner could only fend it to Bairstow at first slip. Then Woakes bowled Handscomb through the gate with a beauty. Archer also left Alex Carey needing stitches from a nasty blow to the chin, but the left-hander recovered to make forty six in a stand of one hundred and three with Smith. With Australia at one hundred and seventeen for three, the game was delicately poised, before Carey needlessly holed out off Adil Rashid, who then removed Marcus Stoinis in the same over and, later, had Pat Cummins caught by Joe Root at slip in a lovely spell of three for fifty four, he best of the tournament so far. Smith remained through it all, only to be run out by Jos Buttler's direct hit that somehow went between the batsman's legs - an action which was symptomatic of a day when everything went right for England. England concluded after their defeat against Sri Lanka at Headingley earlier in the tournament that they had been too passive at the top of the order when pursuing a modest total. This was not a charge that could be laid at their door at Edgbaston. After the dangerous Starc's early overs were safely negotiated, Roy cut loose with fearsome power - the third of his sixes off Smith was a monstrous hit into the top tier of the stand. Although Bairstow was trapped leg before by Starc for thirty four and an angry Roy was - wrongly - adjudged to have hooked Pat Cummins behind, Root and Morgan were untroubled in an unbroken stand of seventy nine. After the match, Roy was fined thirty per cent of his match fee and given two demerit points for 'showing dissent' in his outraged reaction to his dismissal. To be fair, it was a shockingly poor decision by umpire Handunnettige Dharmasena although the target of Roy's anger should really have been his opening partner, Bairstow, who had - needlessly - used up England's one review on what everyone in the ground could see was a plumb LBW decision. Given their team for this tournament only really came together at the last minute, it is to Australia's immense credit that they made the semi-finals with such ease. But here, they were ambushed by a ruthless England and now must regroup before The Ashes begin on the same ground on 1 August. As his team-mates crumbled around him, Smith stood tall, blocking out the abuse to accumulate with his trademark fidgety efficiency. Indeed, had Carey hung around with him for longer, England's task could have been rather difficult. But, after he departed, wickets fell with regularity. To stand any chance of victory, Australia needed early wickets and when they failed to materialise, they were powerless to prevent Roy's awesome hitting.
And then, dear blog reader, on Sunday England - having spent much of the previous few hours doing their damnedest to screw it all up(!) - only went and won the bloody World Cup for the first time since the competition began in 1975, didn't they? Yes, this blogger was rather surprised, albeit entirely delighted, by this turn of events as well. England beat New Zealand following a tie and then a dramatic sudden-death 'super over' in one of the most thrilling matches in cricket history. An, if you will, 'champagne supper over.' Oh, yes - you can have that one, if you like, tabloid headline writers. Who was it that claimed cricket was boring? Some soft plank who is, hopefully, keeping their trap well and truly shut right about now.
    Both sides scored two hundred and forty one from their fifty overs, meaning that they had to bat again for six balls each. England set New Zealand sixteen to win, but with two needed from the final ball, the Black Caps' Martin Guptill could only score one before being run out. That meant the 'super over' scores were tied and England won by virtue of having scored more boundaries in the match (twenty six to New Zealand's seventeen). Let this blogger just repeat that - England have actually won a World Cup in something. That almost never happens! We're English, dear blog reader - the team that usually loses in quarter-finals or the semi-finals (often, on penalties, to the Germans). We crave disappointment. We're used to it. Winning seems, you know, wrong somehow. Nice though.
The scarcely believable climax of the final at Lord's was a match tied - twice - and decided on boundaries hit, ensuring England's four-year journey following their disastrous previous World Cup campaign, in 2015, ended with them being crowned world champions. That it even got to that stage was astonishing in and of itself and came as a result of the first ever tied World Cup final played in front of an ecstatic, bouncing Lord's crowd. England required fifteen from the last over of the match. Ben Stokes hit a six and then benefited from a freak incident when a throw from the deep hit him as he dived into his crease and the ball ricocheted away for four overthrows. He could not get the two needed from the last ball - Mark Wood was run out coming back for a second - but ended eighty four not out and then joined Jos Buttler at the crease for the 'super over.' Between them, they hit fifteen runs from six balls. In the New Zealand reply, Jimmy Neesham hit Jofra Archer's third ball for six, then scrambled a run to leave Guptill needing two from the final ball for a Kiwi victory. As Jason Roy's throw came in from deep mid-wicket, a diving Guptill was well short of his ground and Buttler removed the bails, sending England and the whole of Lord's into delirious celebrations.
Chasing two hundred and forty two, England appeared to be all but out of the game at eighty six for four, squeezed by New Zealand's skilful seam bowling, sharp fielding and shrewd tactics. Gradually, they were dragged back into contention by Stokes and Buttler through patience, calmness and a little good fortune. Buttler was the more fluent, scooping and driving, but when he was caught at deep point for fifty nine, England still needed forty six to win from thirty one balls. It was at this point that Stokes, the man who was hit for four sixes in the final over in England's 2016 World T20 final defeat to the West Indies, took control. After Liam Plunkett was caught at long-off in Neesham's forty ninth over, Trent Boult carried the ball over the boundary for a Stokes six before Jofra Archer was bowled. That left fifteen needed from Boult's final over. Two dot ball were followed by an agricultural heave over deep mid-wicket; then came that outrageous moment of fortune. Diving for his ground to complete a second run, Stokes was inadvertently struck by Guptill's throw and deflected the ball beyond the New Zealand wicket-keeper for four overthrows to make six runs in total. With three needed from two balls, Adil Rashid sacrificed himself and was run out coming back for a suicidal second. When Wood suffered the same fate from the final ball, the match was tied.
    After winning the toss and opting to bat Kane Williamson's New Zealand side set England a victory total of two hundred and forty two, Henry Nicholls top scoring with fifty five and Tom Latham adding a useful forty seven lower down the order. Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett took three wickets apiece. Williamson's thirty off fifty three balls reflected New Zealand's watchful approach on another tricky pitch devoid of pace. Nicholls overturning an LBW decision on nought to top-score with fifty five off seventy seven deliveries. Plunkett's key breakthroughs, the all-important scalp of Williamson among them, took the headlines though Woakes was the metronome of the England attack, especially early on. Mark Wood and Archer turned up the heat - although England gave away seventeen wides among thirty extras during the innings. Wood equalled the fastest delivery in the tournament at ninety five miles per hour while he chipped in with the valuable wicket of Ross Taylor - earning an LBW decision which would have been overturned had New Zealand not earlier used up their review.
New Zealand eventually posted a total of two hundred and forty one for eight off their fifty overs and there was drama with the first ball of England's reply, umpire Marais Erasmus unmoved after Jason Roy was hit on the pads by an inswinger from Boult. Roy was loose on the drive, playing and missing off Matt Henry, who eventually had his man when another punch from the batsman took the outside edge and was caught low by wicket-keeper Latham. Joe Root was unable to make it out of double figures and Jonny Bairstow departed for thirty six, as England slipped to seventy one for three. The hosts were then in major trouble when Eoin Morgan carved Neesham's first ball to deep point, where Lockie Ferguson took a fantastic diving catch. But a superb century partnership from Stokes and Buttler wrestled back the initiative and Stokes's dramatic, unbeaten eighty four forced the 'super over.' Buttler had a couple of moments of fortune, initially as the penultimate delivery of de Grandhomme narrowly missed bat and stumps. Off the next ball, England's wicket-keeper sliced into the air but it bounced short of third man as de Grandhomme finished with figures of one for twenty five. When Boult offered some width Buttler could not resist, cutting uppishly beyond the diving Martin Guptill, the outstretched right hand of New Zealand's gun fielder at backward point being unable to take the sharp chance. The partnership had passed fifty when Buttler was struck on the front pad by Henry, leading to a New Zealand review, only to go to waste as technology showed the ball would have missed leg stump. However, the asking rate was up to seven an over. The tension was palpable as the overs ticked away, Buttler diffusing some of it with an outrageous trademark scoop to fine leg after stepping across his stumps off Henry. The equation came down to sixty five runs from the final eight overs. Buttler was the first to his fifty off fifty three balls, thumping Boult over the covers for four and taking his and Stokes' partnership into three figures, the first century partnership of the match. Stokes followed Buttler to a half-century three balls later, although at a much slower strike-rate. Buttler hammered a Ferguson full toss over cover for another four but was fortunate that a slice off the next ball went fine, stopped at the third man boundary by Boult. However, Buttler was on his way back to the pavilion after an excellent fifty nine from sixty balls when he miscued a slower ball from Ferguson to substitute fielder Tim Southee, running in from cover point to take a fine catch. Woakes, Plunkett and Archer all came and went quickly but Stokes remained as England needed fifteen to win from the final over. Stokes was unable to penetrate the ring of fielders from the first two balls, Boult nailing his lengths and the all-rounder refused a single on both occasions. The Durham man got down on one knee and slog-swept the next ball for a maximum before the strange turn of events that led to England needing three from two balls. Stokes failed to connect cleanly with a full toss but, coming back for a second run, he dived into the crease, Guptill's throw bouncing off his outstretched bat and racing away for four overthrows. A single off the final ball forced the 'super over' and the rest was, quite literally, history. And now, for an encore, we have a forthcoming Ashes series! Boring?
Or, to put it somewhat more eloquently ...
Yeah. What he said.
Accrington Stanley (who are they?) beat French giants Marseille two-one in a pre-season friendly at a rugby stadium. The rugby posts were removed at the AJ Bell Stadium, home of union's Sale Sharks and league's Salford Red Devils, for Thursday's encounter which saw League One Stanley beat the nine-time French champions. Stanley - stars of that famous milk advert which asked who they were back in the 1980s when they had dropped out of the Football League - took the lead inside twenty eight minutes in front of the twelve hundred in attendance through Sean McConville while Offrande Zanzala doubled their lead from the spot ten minutes later. Former Newcastle forward and 2018 World Cup winner Florian Thauvin found the net for Marseille late on but Stanley held on for a memorable win. As well as Thauvin, Marseille fielded a formidable side which included former West Hamsters United midfielder Dimitri Payet, but they could not beat John Coleman's resilient Stanley.
Meanwhile, Kuwait, the world's one hundred and fifty sixth best national team, took on eighth tier Marlow FC in a friendly at Bisham Abbey on Friday. And the Buckinghamshire club, who play in the Isthmian League South Central Division, managed a very creditable three-two defeat against a side which reached the World Cup finals in 1982. Kuwait, the tiny oil-rich state on the Persian Gulf, are in England for a training camp before the West Asian Championship in Iraq later this month. 'Maybe Marlow will be able to enter the next World Cup,' said club chairman Terry Staines, who added that the game came 'out of the blue.' He told BBC Sport: 'We didn't have anywhere near our best team out, while they had a large squad. We went one-nil down after a few minutes and I was a bit worried. We got it back to two-one at half-time, they then scored their third and we got a penalty. The last fifteen to twenty minutes we were trying to get another. We are only two weeks into training, it was a very nice occasion for the club and served a purpose in giving us good match practice.' This may have been the first time Marlow have played an international team, but this was by no means the biggest game in their one hundred and forty nine year history - they were FA Cup semi-finalists in 1882 and lost to Stottingtot Hotshots in the cup third round in the 1993. There will be little time for Marlow to reflect on the loss to Kuwait as they are due to play Eversley and California FC on Saturday in another friendly. Kuwait also took on Berkshire non-league club Hungerford Town in another friendly on Saturday, also at Bisham Abbey, before they face Marlow's near-neighbours Maidenhead United of the National League on Tuesday.
FIFA 'failed to protect' the human rights of a football fan who was allegedly tortured for wearing a Qatar flag t-shirt after a football match in Abu Dhabi, his lawyers have claimed. Ali Issa Ahmad, from Wolverhampton, claimed that he was left with scars after being detained and beaten by UAE police. He said he was followed by officers and arrested after the Qatar versus Iraq match in January. FIFA said that it had received a complaint from Ahmad's lawyers. A UAE official accused him of lying and 'attention seeking.' One or two people even believed them. Ahmad, who left UAE custody in February, claimed that he was followed by a group of men after the match who claimed to be police officers. They ripped his shirt from him and followed him to his hotel, he said. When Ahmad decided to leave the hotel, he said that he was followed again and was attacked in his rental car. When he made it to a petrol station to call for an ambulance, uniformed police officers arrived and subsequently detained and interrogated him. 'I have scars all over my body now,' he said. 'I was beaten up and lost a tooth, I was cut, electrocuted and when I was in a cell I was stabbed. I was forced to sign a statement just to get water. I have so many nightmares now. Not only did they physically torture me but they also called me terrible things, especially because I am black. I never wanted to go public with what happened to me because it is so difficult to keep re-living it, but the UAE keep denying that they did anything to me,' Ahmad claimed. Ahmad's lawyers say FIFA failed in its obligations to protect fans' human rights and 'prevent racial discrimination.' Complaints have also been directed to UAE authorities via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UN Human Rights Council, they added. Rodney Dixon QC, head of Ahmad's legal team, said: 'It is a disgrace that Ali was tortured so cruelly and gratuitously while attending an international football tournament in the UAE. No football fan should have to endure this kind of inhuman and racist treatment. FIFA must take action to hold those responsible to account.' But, of course, they won't. A FIFA spokesman said: 'FIFA has received a correspondence from Mister Ahmad's lawyers and will provide a response. FIFA welcomes any step by the relevant public authorities to establish the facts of the case and calls for adequate remedy to be provided for any wrongdoing that may be identified.' A Foreign Office spokesman said it was asking UAE authorities to investigate. Which, of course, they won't. 'We take all allegations or concerns of torture and mistreatment very seriously,' he added. Disputing Ahmad's version of events, a UAE official claimed that he had gone to a police station and was taken to hospital by officers after claiming to have been beaten by UAE national football fans. A doctor concluded that his injuries 'appeared to be self-inflicted,' the official claimed, somewhat unconvincingly. He added that Ahmad had been charged with 'wasting police time and giving false statements,' which he later admitted. 'He was categorically not arrested for wearing a Qatar football shirt. This is instead an instance of a person seeking media attention and wasting police time,' the official added.
The future of the British Grand Prix has been secured for the next five years with a new agreement between Formula 1 and Silverstone. This weekend's event was due to be the last after Silverstone ended its contract because it was too expensive. But after two years of negotiations, Silverstone and F1 bosses signed a new deal until 2024 in London on Tuesday. F1 chairman Chase Carey described the race at Silverstone as 'an integral part' of the future of the sport. Carey said: 'We have always said that, if it is to have a long-term future, our sport must preserve its historic venues and Silverstone and Great Britain represent the cradle of this sport, its starting point back in 1950.' John Grant, chairman of Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, said: 'Silverstone is one of the most iconic Grands Prix on the F1 calendar and with such a rich heritage it would have been disastrous for the sport and fans had we not managed to find a way forward.' Silverstone had been on the brink of signing a new contract last month only to pause when F1 informed the track of plans to hold a race in London in the next few years. The BRDC had been concerned that another race in the UK would hit spectator numbers and make the British Grand Prix less financially viable. But the track and F1 have, seemingly, found a way out of the impasse. Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said: 'We've been given sufficient comfort in the event that F1 can bring an additional race in the UK on to the calendar that it is additional and the fears we had have been sufficiently addressed in the contract. We are not against trying to grow the fan base in the UK and if a second race helps achieve that, great. But we have taken a lot of commercial risk and we need to be protected. All the aims we set ourselves two years ago have been met to our satisfaction.' F1 owner Liberty Media pledged to protect the future of the sport's historic European races when it bought the sport in 2017. However, Silverstone's future has continued to be a bone of contention, as it was for previous F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for many years. In 2017, Silverstone exercised a break clause in a contract that could have run until 2026 because it said the 'escalator' clause in the deal, which saw the price rise by five per cent each year, made it unaffordable. Both Silverstone and F1 have always maintained that they wanted to keep the race on the calendar but it has taken two years to find a solution which satisfies both parties. The announcement about Silverstone comes after F1 said earlier this year that it had agreed terms on a deal to secure the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the oldest race on the calendar, until 2024.
Lewis Hamilton took a record sixth British Grand Prix victory in a thrilling race featuring a crash between Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel on Sunday. Battles throughout the field created a dramatic race - by far the best of the year so far - as Hamilton benefited from a safety-car period to take a lead he never lost after Valtteri Bottas had held back an attack from his Mercedes team-mate in the early laps. Behind them, Red Bull's Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc staged a duel for the ages in disputing third place for the first third of the race. Their exquisite driving would have been the talk of the day had it not been for the collision between the Dutchman and Leclerc's team-mate Vettel, for which the German four-time champion was given ten-second time penalty and two penalty points of his licence. Hamilton's victory extends his championship lead to thirty nine points at the effective half-way point of the championship, but the discussion will focus on Vettel and yet another error in the heat of battle - the latest in a series over the past year. Bottas converted his pole position into a lead at the first corner, but Hamilton challenged hard over the first three laps, the Finn just managing to hold him off. On lap four, Hamilton appeared to have won the lead, going for the outside at Brooklands, then cutting back and passing Bottas around the outside of the one hundred and eighty-degree corner of Luffield. Their fight settled down, Hamilton sitting just over a second behind, until Bottas stopped for fresh tyres on lap sixteen, his decision to go for the same medium compound he had used at the start committing him to a second stop. Hamilton, though, stayed out, clearly intending to go for a one-stop strategy and when the safety car was called after Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi crashed at Vale, he could make a pit stop, comfortably rejoin in the lead and cruise to the finish. The safety car gave Hamilton the lead as a gift, but the indications were that Bottas would have found it difficult to hold him off anyway, once he had committed to a two-stop. Hamilton also took fastest lap on thirty-lap-old hard tyres on the last circuit, beating the mark Bottas had set a couple of laps previously after a stop for fresh tyres. His sixth British Grands Prix win moved him clear of Jim Clark and Alain Prost and puts him in a commanding position in this season's championship.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon has been jailed for nine months for contempt of court. The former-English Defence League leader was found guilty last week of interfering with the trial of a sexual grooming gang at Leeds Crown Court in May 2018. Two Old Bailey judges said that his Facebook Live video of defendants in the trial had 'encouraged vigilante action.' A social media account in Yaxley-Lennon's name called his sentence 'an absolute joke' and said it was 'time to protest.' Outside court, his supporters pelted police with bottles and cans. Later, journalists filming on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament were verbally abused, physically intimidated and had their equipment attacked before police officers arrived. The BBC's News At One cut short a broadcast from College Green as protesters interrupted a live report. Police said that no arrests had - yet - been made in relation to Thursday's violence. But officers did arrest three people for affray and one for a public order offence in relation to a 'protest' that happened outside court on the day of Yaxley-Lennon's conviction last Friday. Four other people had already been arrested for affray on Friday. Outside the Old Bailey, supporters of Yaxley-Lennon, booed and chanted 'we want Tommy out' after his sentencing, before some began throwing missiles at police. As a prison van thought to contain Yaxley-Lennon drove away, several people shouted 'we love you, Tommy.' During the 2018 case at Leeds Crown Court, reporting restrictions had been put in place postponing the publication of any details until the end of a series of linked trials involving twenty nine defendants. However, Yaxley-Lennon, from Luton, broadcast footage from outside the court on 25 May 2018, while the jury in the second trial of the series was still considering its verdict. The video lasted an hour-and-a-half and was viewed online two hundred and fifty thousand times, after being live-streamed on Facebook. In a written ruling, Dame Victoria Sharp said that Yaxley-Lennon had claimed his intention in making the broadcast was to 'denounce the media' for their behaviour. But the judges weren't having it and found that he had encouraged others 'to harass a defendant by finding him, knocking on his door, following him, and watching him.' This created 'a real risk that the course of justice would be seriously impeded,' she said. Yaxley-Lennon was originally jailed for thirteen months on the day of the Facebook broadcast, but was released two months into his sentence after winning an appeal. The case was then referred back to Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who announced, in March this year, that it was 'in the public interest' to bring fresh proceedings. The nine month jail sentence served on Thursday includes six months for the Leeds Crown Court offence last year and another three months for contempt of court, following a suspended sentence given at Canterbury Crown Court in May 2017. At the Old Bailey on Thursday, Dame Victoria told Yaxley-Lennon that the time he previously spent behind bars for contempt would be 'taken into account,' reducing his sentence to nineteen weeks - of which he would serve half before being released. Yaxley-Lennon's barrister Richard Furlong raised the possibility of an appeal against the court's decision and was told he has twenty eight days to apply. The Attorney General said that the sentencing 'illustrated how seriously' the courts would take matters of contempt. 'I would urge everyone to think carefully about whether their social media posts could amount to contempt of court,' Cox added. Contempt of court laws exist to ensure people have fair trials. The idea is that juries must not be influenced by anything but the evidence they hear in court. The rules apply to everyone from journalists to people posting comments on social media and even jurors. If someone interferes with a trial, the defendants can walk free and a new trial may have to be held. The maximum sentence for contempt of court is two years in prison, but it can also be punished with an unlimited fine. Contempt includes publishing anything that creates a substantial risk of seriously prejudicing 'active' criminal proceedings. Proceedings become 'active' when a suspect is arrested. Someone could also be in contempt by actions including taking photographs or film, recording what is said in court or talking to a jury member about a case.
A conveyor belt, presenting customers with all the tantalising varieties of cheese they could possibly imagine is coming to London's Covent Garden. It's like The Generation Game's prize showcase but instead of cuddly toys, there's merely more cheese. Owned by the people behind The Cheese Bar in Camden, Pick & Cheese will seat diners in front of a forty-metre-long electronic belt carrying plate after plate of small producer cheese, where they can choose to follow suggested tasting flights or simply help themselves to that day's selection as it passes their table. There are twenty five wedges in total, each arriving with an accompanying condiment, from Coolea with Hazelnut Brittle, to Fresh Ricotta with Sherry Cherries.
A Cullman County woman is behind bars after authorities say she accidentally shot her husband while trying to shoot someone else. Sheriff Matt Gentry said that the incident began on Saturday in 'a road rage episode' on Alabama Highway Sixty Nine in Dodge City. The dispute carried over to a home in Bremen. Authorities said that Erica Cole attempted to shoot a second party but, instead, struck her husband. Nicholas Cole was shot in in the head and is, reportedly, in stable condition. Erica Cole was arrested on charges of attempted murder, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.
A woman from Florida who allegedly could not get The Sex from her boyfriend subsequently turned a blade on him. Jennifer Lee Chapman, of Dunedin - a suburb of Tampa - was very arrested Wednesday on felony aggravated battery charges. When her live-in boyfriend alleged that he was 'too tired' for The Sex, Chapman allegedly grabbed a serrated kitchen knife and cut her own arm. Police say the boyfriend tried to stop Chapman, resulting in a physical confrontation between the couple. Both hit the floor during their struggle, according to the complaint filed by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. The report states that when the two briefly separated, Chapman grabbed the knife and cut her boyfriend multiple times on his arm and shoulder. The report further alleges that Chapman head-butted her boyfriend and punched him in the face. The victim was bleeding from stab wounds and showed injuries to his face. Chapman then reportedly fled the scene on foot. Neither alcohol nor drugs played a role in the incident and there were no witnesses, according to the report. The incident occurred last Friday, but Chapman was not arrested until Wednesday. In addition to these charges, Chapman could be in big trouble for violating her probation. Last October she was sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to illegally possessing crystal meth, marijuana and Xanax, according to The Smoking Gun website. The arrest comes just two days after a woman in West Virginia admitted to the 2017 stabbing death of her husband during rough sexual 'foreplay.' On Monday, Jennifer Lynn Via was sentenced to fifteen years in The Slammer for the stabbing death of her husband, Thomas. Jennifer initially told authorities that her husband had slipped and fallen on the fourteen-inch dagger which went through his heart. However, she later confessed that the couple had been watching 'kung-fu movies' and that led to 'violent foreplay using weapons,' according to ABC News.
From The North's award for the most utterly pointless headline of the week goes to this blogger's local paper, the Evening Chronicle with this, breathtaking example of quality journalism.
Although, admittedly, the Sun's Spank The Monkey: The Ghost Of A Masturbating Ape Haunts The Hallways Of A Grand Country Estate In Dorset is a jolly worthy runner-up.
Denise Nickerson, the former child actress who played Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, has died aged sixty two. Denise's family announced the news in a Facebook post. In earlier updates on social media, her family said she was suffering from pneumonia and had experienced several seizures. Denise - who was cast opposite Gene Wilder at the age of thirteen - had previously survived a stroke in 2018. Born in New York City in 1957, Denise made her screen debut as an eight year old in a 1965 episode of Flipper. Her first major TV roles were on the Gothic US soap Dark Shadows playing two semi-regular characters, Amy Jennings and Nora Collins. She then appeared - to great acclaim - in the EMMY-winning 1971 television movie The Neon Ceiling, a particular favourite of this blogger.
Described in a contemporary review in the Los Angeles Times as 'an extraordinary experience' and 'a work of art' the movie, about a young mother Carrie (Lee Grant) who, with her thirteen year old daughter Paula (Nickerson), leaves a loveless marriage in the middle of the night. The pair, both victims of various forms of depression find freedom and peace at a desert diner, with the titular Neon Ceiling, owned by the gruff, alcoholic Jonesy (Gig Young), a man - like both Carrie and Paula - wounded by the world and by failed relationships. Never released on DVD and rarely shown on television, the movie haunted this blogger when he saw it as a child. A unique exploration of human tragedy, a broadly feminist take on contemporary criticism of the failed American Dream (the Tennessee Williams-influenced script was by Carol Sobieski) and with a truly beautiful soundtrack, had it been theatrically released rather than shown on TV, it's reputation would, surely, be that of a masterpiece of US independent cinema.
Later the same year, Denise was cast in composer John Barry's ill-fated musical Lolita, My Love before landing her signature role as the gum-chewing brat Violet in the first film adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. In the movie, her character loses out on winning the factory after she is unable to resist a chewing gum meal which turns her into a giant blueberry. Following Wilder's death in 2016, Nickerson said: 'He was such a kind, tender-hearted man. And for him to put up with us, my God what patience he must've needed for five of us running around.'
Denise's other roles included Liza Walton on the CBS soap Search For Tomorrow, in The Man Who Could Talk To Kids, opposite Peter Boyle and in beauty pageant satire Smile as well as episodes of The Electric Company and The Brady Bunch. She also auditioned for the role of Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist. Her career suffered a setback when she was hit by a car in 1976 while crossing the street in Los Angeles and left in a full leg cast for eight months. She went into semi-retirement as an actress at the age of twenty one, acting sporadically over the years and working in doctors' offices as a receptionist and an accountant. Denise was married twice. Her first marriage to Rick Keller ended with his death from a brain aneurysm in 1983. She had a son, Josh, with her second husband Mark Willard, whom she divorced in 1998.
Rip Torn, America's celebrated wild man actor, has died aged eighty eight. Torn, who had been a constant presence on stage and screen since the mid-1950s, was arguably better known for his eccentric - and occasionally violent - antics when the cameras weren't rolling and on one notorious occasion, when they were. His publicist, Rick Miramontez, confirmed that Torn died on Tuesday afternoon at his home with his wife, the actress Amy Wright and his daughters Katie Torn and Angelica Page by his side. During the filming of Norman Mailer's film Maidstone, a largely improvised production made at the height of the late-1960s counterculture, Torn played Mailer's brother and attacked Mailer for real, hitting him over the head with a hammer and then attempting to strangle him. Mailer responded by biting Torn's ear. Torn's reputation for irascibility had already been established inside the industry after a row with Dennis Hopper in a New York diner during the pre-production of Easy Rider, the seminal 1969 counterculture biker movie, which led to Torn being replaced by Jack Nicholson before shooting began. The incident became more widely known after Hopper claimed on a TV talk show in 1994 that Torn had pulled a knife on him; Torn subsequent sued, claiming that, in fact, Mad Dennis had pulled the knife on him. The court found in Torn's favour and awarded him almost half-a-million dollars in damages. By the time of Easy Rider, however, Torn was already an established figure in Hollywood. Born in Texas in 1931, the son of an agricultural economist, Torn's given names were Elmore Rual, with Rip being a traditional nickname within his family. His mother's maiden name was Spacek and his cousin was the Carrie star Sissy Spacek. Torn studied drama at the University of Texas, before relocating to New York and The Actors Studio, the celebrated training ground for the 'method' generation. There he fell in with the circle around director Elia Kazan, who gave Torn his first film role (in 1956's Baby Doll) and his first substantial stage role, in the original 1959 production of Sweet Bird Of Youth (as well as the 1962 film adaptation, directed by Richard Brooks). Torn's career gained momentum during the 1960s: he played Judas Iscariot in the Nicholas Ray-directed King Of Kings, as wealthy gambler Slade in The Cincinnati Kid and appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's second film as director, You're A Big Boy Now, in 1966. His stage career flourished at the same time and reflected his burgeoning interest in radical politics: he appeared in James Baldwin's 1964 play, Blues For Mister Charlie, based on the murder of Emmett Till - though he later fell out with Baldwin, when the writer softened some of the play's more controversial scenes after it transferred to London's West End. It was Torn's friendship with writer and fellow Texan Terry Southern (the pair met on the set of The Cincinnati Kid) which led to the Easy Rider debacle: Southern had written the role of the lawyer, George Hanson specifically for Torn, but after the altercation with Hopper it - and overnight stardom - went to Nicholson instead. Torn later claimed that the incident had damaged his career and it's certainly the case that it did not progress in the 1970s and 1980s in the way he might have expected. Appearing as an interview subject in Studs Terkel's 1974 oral-history book Working, Torn confessed, 'I have certain flaws in my make-up. Something called irascibility. I get angry easily. I get saddened by things easily.' He played a mobster in the 1972 blaxploitation movie Slaughter and was superb as an oversexed former college professor-turned scientist in Nicholas Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth (opposite David Bowie with whom he established a lasting friendship); he received an unexpected best supporting actor Oscar nomination in 1983 for the lyrical 1920s-set author memoir Cross Creek.
He also made a disastrous directorial debut with the 1988 Whoopi Goldberg comedy The Telephone; Torn found it difficult to deal with Goldberg's improvisatory style and the pair clashed repeatedly. Otherwise, much of his time was spent becalmed in run-of-the-mill crime and horror movies. However, Torn experienced a dramatic career upturn after being cast as Machiavellian, foulmouthed talk-show producer Artie in The Larry Sanders Show, after the producers were impressed by his turn as a lawyer in the Albert Brooks afterlife comedy Defending Your Life. The show ran from 1992 to 1998 and Torn was nominated for an EMMY for each of its six seasons: he only won once, in 1996. As a result, he began appearing in higher-profile films: notably as Agent Z in the blockbuster SF comedy Men In Black in 1997 and the literary comedy-drama Wonder Boys in 2000. Torn worked constantly in the next decade, appearing in everything from broad comedies such as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Freddy Got Fingered, to high-status period drama such as Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. He also had a recurring role in the TV industry satire 30 Rock as network chief Don Geiss. However Torn's reputation for volatility returned when he was arrested in 2010 for breaking into a Connecticut bank at night while carrying a loaded gun. Reports at the time suggested that a 'highly intoxicated' Torn thought that the bank was his home and that he had fallen asleep inside the building. This followed a series of arrests for drink-driving, dating back to 2004. Torn was married three times, all to fellow actors: Ann Wedgeworth (between 1956 and their divorce in 1961); Geraldine Page, whom he met when they worked together on Sweet Bird Of Youth (between 1963 and her death in 1987) and Amy Wright, who survives him after their marriage in 1989. Torn had six children, among them the successful stage actor Angelica Page.
Freddie Jones, who has died aged ninety one, was the epitome of an old-fashioned character actor, a comic tragedian, eccentric and big-hearted, with something of both Donald Wolfit and Dickens' Crummles about him. Indeed, his most famous stage role was that of Ronald Harwood's affectionate near-portrait of Wolfit in The Dresser (1980), an fading ham whom everyone calls 'Sir' who faces disaster in the mirror while preparing to take on the role of King Lear. Freddie also memorably embodied the extravagant Crummles in a BBC adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby in 1977. If Freddie's sometimes emulated Wolfit, his real hero was Wilfrid Lawson, a bibulous character actor who could break audiences hearts in an instant and Freddie reportedly always welcomed the comparison. Yet, to the general public, his career was something of a patchwork and he suffered the indignity of outright failure in a stage role that should have been a triumph, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, when he returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, three decades after his debut. Instead, he achieved huge recognition as Sandy Thomas, the estranged father of a vicar, in the long-running Emmerdale, a role he unashamedly - and gratefully - enjoyed in the twilight of his career, from 2005 to 2018. For an actor who could let loose the dogs of war with the best of them, he was surprisingly mild and unambitious, tall and courteous, bearded and ruddy-faced, one once who declared that: 'My life springs from my wife, my family, my work and my whisky!'
Freddie was born in Dresden, Stoke-on-Trent, one of two sons of Charles Jones, an electrical porcelain thrower and his wife, Ida. He attended the nearby grammar school in Longton, which he hated. As a boy scout, he appeared in a show at the Theatre Royal in Hanley. He worked at Creda, the home appliances store and then, for ten years, as a lab assistant at a chemical factory in Tamworth whilst he immersed himself in amateur dramatics at Shelton rep and other companies around the Potteries. He was well into his thirties by the time he trained at Rose Bruford and made his London debut with the RSC at The Arts Theatre in David Rudkin's Afore Night Come (1962) and at The Aldwych in Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths in 1964. He was immediately one of the company's most distinctive character actors and appeared in Beckett's Act Without Words, as Pistol in The Merry Wives Of Windsor and as Cucurucu in Peter Brook's landmark 1964 production of Marat/Sade (subsequently released as a film in 1967) alongside Glenda Jackson, Ian Richardson and Patrick Magee. He made his first impression on television as Claudius in the six-part ITV series of The Caesars (1968), followed by rich cameos in the likes of Cold Comfort Farm (1968), Alice Through The Looking Glass, (as Humpty Dumpty in 1973) and as a headteacher in Dennis Potter's Pennies From Heaven (1978). Best of all, he was the irascible Victorian general, Sir George Uproar, in Richard Carpenter's The Ghosts Of Motley Hall (1976 to 1978), a children's comedy drama with a superb cast - Nicholas Le Prevost, Sheila Steafel, Peter Sallis, Arthur English among others - as a group of ghosts protecting an old family seat against the incursion of property speculators. Freddie began to accumulate a decent cinematic portfolio with roles in Joseph Losey's Accident (1967) - he played a man in the office of Harold Pinter's scowling TV producer - John Schlesinger's Far From The Madding Crowd the same year and the oddball crime caper Otley (1968) starring Tom Courtenay. It was also with Courtenay that he enjoyed his greatest stage success twelve years later, as 'Sir' at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester which took everyone by surprise, mainly because many had forgotten what a fine actor he was. No subsequent performance in The Dresser - not Albert Finney in the 1983 movie adaptation, Anthony Hopkins on television in 2015, or Ken Stott in the West End in 2016 - matched the rumbling thunder of Jones in Manchester and subsequently at The Queen's in London. With the bombs dropping on a provincial town in 1942, he slumped into the dressing room, dispirited, starting in horror at the nightmare to come and collapsed in tears while Courtenay's dresser, Norman, launched poisonous glances back over his shoulder into Sir's make-up mirror. Rather like Nigel Hawthorne in The Madness Of King George, Jones played Lear while skirting round the periphery of the role. The actor himself - 'Sir' that is, not Jones - was the tragic, heartbroken hero. Freddie also appeared in two of Hammer's best horror movies, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1968) and The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1973) as well as the superb Roger Moore vehicle The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970). His favourite screen role was Orlando, an intermittently drunk journalist in Fellini's And The Ship Sails On (1983), who is chronicling the journey of a party of hedonists committed to scattering the ashes of a dead opera singer.
After appearing to acclaim as Bytes, the bullying freak-show owner in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980) opposite John Hurt, Freddie collaborated further with Lynch on Dune (1984), Wild At Heart (1990) and in Lynch's bizarre three-part US television mini-series Hotel Room, in which he played a guest star on a variety TV show having trouble with his voice and with a duck which is roasted in an electric chair and consumed by stage hands. Freddie played another celebrated thespian, Sir Giles Hampton, in an episode of Just William in 1994, rescuing the little blighter's career in am-dram, while his gallery of actor-managers was vividly increased by another fruity cameo as Thomas Betterton, pride of the Restoration theatre, with Johnny Depp as the Earl of Rochester, in The Libertine (2005). And there were other performances to treasure such as Barkis in Peter Medak's TV version of David Copperfield (2000), a rubicund fisherman in Charles Dance's Ladies In Lavender (2004) - with Freddie's son, Toby, popping up as a village postman - and as an Irish domestic bulwark in Finola Geraghty's Come On Eileen (2010). His CV also included appearances in Heartbeat, Russell Davies's Casanova, both the Vic Reeves/Bob Mortimer remake of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and the 1969 original, The League Of Gentlemen, Neverwhere, Lovejoy, Mister Wroe's Virgins, The Casebook Of Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, Sob Sisters, Room At The Bottom, Vanity Fair, The District Nurse, The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, Travelling Man, The Strange Affair Of Adelaide Harris, Strangers, Play For Today (including another of Potter's plays, Joe's Ark), The Devil's Crown, Hazell, Target, Van Der Valk, The Duchess Of Duke Street, Children Of The Stones, Space: 1999, The Boy Dave, Fall Of Eagles, Armchair Theatre, The Protectors, Love & Mister Lewisham, The Goodies, Jason King, The Trouble With Lilian, Out Of The Unknown, Six Dates With Barker, The Main Chance, Menace, Mystery & Imagination (a memorable performance in the title role in 1970's Sweeney Todd), The Saint, Nana, The Avengers (a duel role - including John Steed in another man's body - in 1967's Who's Who???), The Baron, Our Man At St Mark's, The Wednesday Play, Z Cars and It Happened Like This. And also, in films as diverse as Erik The Viking, Firefox, Zulu Dawn, Never Too Young To Rock, Vampira, Juggernaut, Son Of Dracula, Assault, The Bliss Of Mrs Blossom, Antony & Cleopatra, Goodbye Gemini, Sitting Targets, Firestarter and The Life & Crimes Of William Palmer.
He had little to prove on stage after The Dresser, but his continued absence was regrettable. In the 1991 RSC season, the Malvolio misfire was, in part, compensated for by a hilarious performance as Sir Nicholas Gimcrack in Thomas Shadwell's Seventeen-Century comedy The Virtuoso, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Freddie's Gimcrack was bent on a course of pointless scientific research - dissecting insects and lobsters, perfecting the art of swimming on dry land and collecting bottled air - in a superb display of gravely befuddled distraction. Freddie's working-class childhood and early years had been hard and largely unhappy. 'Acting saved his life,' said his son, Toby. 'Drama school was a reinvention, or an awakening of stuff he hadn't been allowed to show in his life.' He took solace in his long marriage to the actress Jennie Heslewood, whom he married in 1965 and who survives him, as do their three sons, Toby, Rupert, a director and Casper, also an actor.
The suspect behind the leak of confidential memos from Britain's ambassador to the US has been identified, it has been reported, as fresh details of the memos content was published. Suggestions that the authorities intend to do unto the leaker more or less what Ramsey Bolton did unto Theon Greyjoy cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Sir Kim Darroch extremely resigned last week after the Scum Mail on Sunday published extracts from the memos, in which he described Donald Rump's administration as 'clumsy and inept.' And, those were some of the nicer things he said about them. The Metropolitan police's counter-terrorism command launched a criminal investigation on Friday and on Sunday, The Sunday Times, citing 'unnamed government sources,' reported that a suspect had been 'identified' and the possibility of a computer hack by a foreign state had been ruled out. 'They think they know who did the leaking,' the paper quoted an 'unnamed government snitch' as Copper's Narking. 'It's now a case of building a case that will stand up in court. It was someone with access to historical files. They went in and grabbed a range of material. It was quite crude.' Both The Sunday Times and the Scum Mail on Sunday reported that intelligence officials from GCHQ were 'about to join the investigation,' to attempt to find the suspect by examining e-mail and phone records. And, you know, thumb-screws. Announcing the police investigation on Friday, Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu warned media organisations that they could be breaking the law if they published further details from the cables. However, the Scum Mail on Sunday published more details this weekend, quoting Darroch accusing Donald Rump of abandoning the US's nuclear deal with Iran 'out of spite' towards his predecessor, Barack Obama. In a telegram to the then foreign secretary (and hairdo), Boris Johnson, who has been blamed for the ambassador's resignation because of his failure to back Darroch after the initial leak, Darroch wrote: 'On the substance, the [US] administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons - it was Obama's deal.' On Saturday, the Met backed off from its threat that journalists could face prosecution if they published further leaked diplomatic cables after widespread criticism - including from Johnson, and his rival for the Conservative leadership, the vile and odious rascal Hunt. But,m mainly from the Gruniad Morning Star - that The Fuzz was 'attacking press freedom.' Basu 'clarified' (for which read 'weaselled') that the Met 'respects the rights of the media and has no intention of seeking to prevent editors from publishing stories in the public interest in a liberal democracy”' One or two people even believed them. A spokesman for the Scum Mail on Sunday said that it was continuing to publish details from the leaks because it contained 'important information about how Britain tried, but failed, to stop President Trump abandoning the Iran nuclear deal. What could be more in the public interest than a better understanding of how this position was reached, which may have serious consequences for world peace?' A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'A police inquiry into the totally unacceptable leak of this sensitive material has begun. The perpetrator should face the consequences of their actions. It's not news that the US and UK differ in how to ensure Iran is never able to acquire a nuclear weapon; but this does underline that we do not shy away from talking about our differences and working together.'
Four compensation claims have been made after a sonic boom was caused by military aircraft, the Ministry of Defence has said. The RAF Typhoon jets were scrambled to escort a Jet2 flight in to land at Stansted Airport 'because of a disruptive passenger,' on 22 June. People in Essex reported their houses 'shaking' after hearing the jets' sonic boom, sparking a flurry of nine-nine-nine calls and people asking their neighbours 'have you just farted?' The MOD said that claims had been made for a broken window and a damaged greenhouse. Claims have also been submitted for a cracked car windscreen and damage to a ceiling light, it added. It said three of the claims were from people in Essex and the fourth was from a resident in Hertfordshire. The MOD did not disclose the value of the claims in its response to a Freedom of Information request by the BBC. It also declined to release photos of the claimed damage. But the MOD said that military flying training rules 'did not routinely permit supersonic flight' over land in the UK, unless there was 'an operational priority.' It said: 'It is recognised that supersonic flight over land may cause inconvenience to the public. However, this must be balanced against the need to maintain national security in an unpredictable and dangerous world.' Where 'a disruptive passenger' qualifies on the 'dangerous world' scale of one to ten with one being really not that dangerous and ten being 'an asteroid hitting and destroying all life on the planet' they did not reveal. But, we can probably guess. People reported a 'loud explosion' which was heard in Harlow, Epping, Chelmsford and Stansted. The RAF Typhoon jets escorted the Jet2 flight, due to travel to Dalaman in Turkey, back to Stansted. The incident led to minor delays to other flights. A twenty five-year-old was arrested on suspicion of common assault, criminal damage and endangering an aircraft. She was subsequently released on bail until 30 July. The MOD has previously paid out twelve hundred and seven knicker for cracked windows in Anglesey in 2014 and seven hundred and eighty notes for damaged patio doors and chandelier in Peterborough.
A scantily-clad woman who ran off with a police radio after escaping from an officer's grasp has reportedly walked free from court. Gemma Jackson was caught on video 'tussling with a lone policeman' on top of the Somerset Day Centre in Brighton before she jumped from a roof to evade capture. Jackson’s top came off during the struggle, exposing her bare boobies to 'shocked onlookers' as she dangled from the rooftop railing. After dropping to the ground below, the woman - of no fixed address, or, indeed, no fixed clothing - could be seen scrambling to put her clothes back on and collecting her belongings from the floor. She then grabbed the officer's radio 'which had been thrown to the ground' in the commotion and started walking away. Neighbours could then be heard shouting 'run, here he comes' before the woman picked up the pace as she made a desperate bid for freedom in her underwear. By the time the officer reached the ground floor, the woman was nowhere to be seen. Shortly afterwards, he retreated to his patrol car. One amused neighbour told the Brighton Argus: 'She managed to get away then about seven cars turned up. All the officers were running around looking for her like headless chickens.' Jackson was subsequently pinched by the fuzz and charged with resisting arrest, theft of a police radio and walking about with her bobbies out during the hours of daylight in a built-up area and appeared at Brighton Magistrates' Court on Friday. She pleaded extremely guilty to both offences and was given a four-week prison sentence suspended for twelve months. She was also ordered to pay one hundred and fifteen smackers victim surcharge costs and eighty five quid court costs. A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: 'Police were called to a report of an intruder who had gone into a flat in Lavender Street. A woman had climbed from a window onto a balcony area. When an officer went to detain her, she struggled away and his police radio fell off. He was concerned she was going to fall and grabbed her arm. However she jumped away into car park below, picked up the radio and ran off. She was arrested a short time later and taken to custody. The radio was recovered.'
A Florida woman who took video of her daughter licking medical equipment in a Jacksonville doctor's office is under arrest, according to FOX 30. Video surfaced and was shared widely on social media of a young girl taking a tongue depressor out of the storage container, licking it and then putting it back with all the other tongue depressors. A sign above the tongue depressors read, 'Please do not touch medical supplies!' while the video showing the girl licking the tongue depressor was captioned, 'Don't tell me how to live my life.' Action News Jacksonville spoke to the woman who posted the video on Snapchat, Cori Ward and when asked her what the Hell she thought she was playing at when she took - and then posted - the video, she said,"'I mean honestly, I wasn't thinking.' No shit? The station said on Thursday that, after the video surfaced, the thirty-year-old was extremely arrested and now faces a charge of tampering with a consumer product without regard for possible death/bodily injury. And, being a bloody fool. 'This is how viral infection spreads, right, through respiratory droplets - and here you're putting saliva on a tongue depressors that you're putting straight into someone's mouth,' Doctor Sunil Josh, a doctor not related to the medical office where the incident took place, told Action News Jacksonville. Ward grovellingly apologised, according to the stations and claimed that when the camera stopped rolling she removed the items surrounding the tongue depressor that was put back. Ward also claims that she and her family are getting death threats. 'It's horrible. I mean, I'm scared for my kids, especially, my oldest that's out and on her own since they posted her photo,' she said. The location of the doctor's office has not been released.
And, finally dear blog reader, let's all send Brian our heartiest congratulations on this terrific news ...