Sunday, December 13, 2020

For Death Remembered Should Be Like A Mirror Who Tells Us Life Is But Breath, To Trust It, Error

Depressing to report, dear blog reader, the From The North Comments Section which this blogger recently mentioned had been reopened due to popular(ish) demand has had to be closed again. This is because of further - entirely unwanted - correspondence to this blog from the extremely tiresome online stalker whose behaviour caused its closure in the first place. Isn't it proper great to know that there's always someone desperately keen to waste the time and spoil the enjoyment of others? A rather dispiriting example of the Twenty First Century at its most crummy. There are, of course, laws against Cyberstalking - quite wide-ranging ones with some rather swingeing penalties for those who can be shown to have transgressed them as it happens. Particularly those who have been, repeatedly, asked to cease and desist their naughty stalking ways. Therefore, rest assured, this blogger is currently in active discussions with the relevant authorities to see if there is any way to persuade this joker that his sinister attentions and his presence here are really not wanted. Time will tell. It usually does. 
Let it be stated here and now, dear blog reader, that yer actual Keith Telly Topping is - most of the time - quite a nice chap. However, when it comes to the unwanted attention of persistent and rude planks who simply won't take a hint, this blogger has always considered that he, personally, resembles a curious mixture of Terry Collier from Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?, Dennis Hopper's unnamed photojournalist in Apocalypse Now and a little bit of Linda Manz's Gorgeous from Out Of The Blue. You know, just for a bit of - necessary - perspective.
That There Bradley Walsh is set to depart Doctor Who in upcoming New Year's Day special Revolution Of The Daleks as was previously announced. And, with his time on the TARDIS now behind him Bradley has, seemingly, found himself in a nostalgic mood, revealing in an interview with the Radio Times that his proudest moments on the BBC's long-running popular SF family drama were when the series was tackling social and environmental issues. 'We ... have carried through global issues. It's been a through-narrative of almost every single episode,' Walsh told Radio Times. 'Whether it's Rosa Parks, or whether it's the plastics episode. It's a whole narrative through the series.' In particular, Bradley highlighted the 2018 episode Rosa, which dealt with issues of race in a historical setting, as one of the episodes he was most proud of during his time on the show and credited both showrunner Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker with helping bring these stories to life. 'My favourite episode of all the shows - I think I've made twenty two - was the Rosa Parks one, by a country mile. And, how relevant has that now been, over the last year? Chris Chibnall is not frightened to confront stuff like this. I think that's great. And, the fact that we have someone like The Boss. And The Boss is Jodie Whittaker by the way, The Boss of the acting department is great. Her compassion, her thoughts and the way she wants to live her life, in every day, comes across on-screen. She's a very compassionate woman. Her humility and everything is off the radar.' Bradley also praised the way the series had depicted his character Graham's cancer worries and mental health issues, telling the magazine that he felt the story 'needed to be told. You want to portray a story and people that have something in common with the people that are viewing the show,' Walsh explained. 'So whether it be a cancer issue. Whether it be mental health. Or a fear of spiders! You've got to try and deal with it in such a compassionate way as well.'
Now, dear blog reader, as previously observed, it appears as though there could be a somewhat unusual plotline for the forthcoming New Year's Day special by the sound of it ...
Although, as more than a few of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's dear Facebook fiends pointed out, there are previous precedents for exactly this sort of left-field malarkey.
More than a few precedents, in fact ...
A fake TV game-show host reportedly tricked two men into being filmed carrying out 'naked challenges' for the chance to win a cash prize, police have said. In 2018, a twenty eight-year-old man told The Met that he had been filmed involved in various bare-nekked-type doings in a hotel room in Newham by another man who claimed this was 'for a show.' Earlier this year, a thirty one-year-old man reported similar malarkey had happened to him in 2013, the force said. Scotland Yard added officers 'believe there may be more victims out there.' The twenty eight-year-old approached police in June 2018 to report that a man claiming to be 'in the entertainment industry' had asked him to take part in a game show for the chance to win five thousand smackers. He claimed that he was then required to take part in several 'nude challenges' which were filmed by the suspect who subsequently kept the footage. The second victim, who was identified by police in February this year, told officers that a man had 'coerced' him into 'doing something similar' in a hotel in South London in August 2013. Officers arrested a twenty nine-year-old man in January 2019 on suspicion of voyeurism and he was released under investigation. Sergeant James Mason said: 'We believe there may be more victims in relation to these events. I urge anyone who may be a victim of similar crimes or incidents from 2013 to the present day, to come forward with information.' It might've been James Mason speaking or it could, possibly, have been Eddie Izzard doing an impression of God. One or the other.
So, dear blog reader, what - the more curious of you may be wondering - has soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump been up to this week? Well, he's been losing an erection. Again. Which, admittedly, was funny. And, he's been whinging about it. (It must be said, it's the 'no wisdom' statement that makes it art. Three of these justices were people you personally picked and you couldn't get one of them to support you, you orange-faced clown.) Soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump has also been whinging about lots of other things, as it happens. His own Attorney General, for instance. The - Republican - Governors of two states which didn't vote for him and then refused to overturn the people's verdict on his whim. He, personally, being responsible for performing 'a miracle' and discovering a Covid-19 vaccine and not getting the credit for it from, you know, everyone. The length of time it took the FDA to approve said vaccine for public usage. The forthcoming Biden Administration. Not starting a war with North Korea. And, 'fake news' in general. Et cetera, et cetera. He's quite a sight when he's filed, dear blog reader. His orange-face near enough glows.
Slightly closer to reality, Toby has spoken, dear blog reader. If you're not already doing so, just do it.
After all, here is something else for you all to consider.
From that, dear blog reader, to another regular From The North feature ...
Brot (The Valhalla Murders). This blogger thinks Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir and Björn Thors are great.
Star Trek: Discovery. Back through the mirror. 
The Queen's Gambit. This will fulfil your daily pawn needs. 
Knives Out.
Mission Impossible: Fallout.
The Death Of Stalin.
The Irishman.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?
Neither The Sea Nor The Sand.
Hot Fuzz.
Almost Famous: Untitled.
The Usual Suspects.
And, JFK. Which, incidentally, remains the movie containing this blogger's favourite line of dialogue in all cinema: 'You're a Goddamn liberal, Mister Garrison. You don't know shit 'cause you've never been fucked in the ass!'
Meanwhile, earlier this week, this blogger with a popular beat combo of the 1960s (you might've heard of them). And, a garlic and chilli King Prawn doo-dah. Which he really deserved, just in case you were wondering.
By Hell, dear blog reader, but it was more than a shade nippy again a couple of days this week at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House. Had there been a Brass Monkey in the vicinity, he'd have thought he'd had a result. 
This blogger was off into Th' Toon for his first post-lockdown proper shop in four weeks the day after lockdown ended in the first week of December. Though, on Northumberland Street - which, considering this was early December was hardly jam-packed to the zenith and beyond - they still seemed jolly keen to get the general message of doom and darkness and decay and The Red Death holding its illimitable dominion over all across to the general public.
Fenwick's window this year was looking just a bit bedraggled. For the uninitiated, Fenwick's is Newcastle's largest independent department store and, every December since the early 1970s, their windows on Northumberland Street feature some form of festive display, usually involving quite primitive but, still rather charming, animatronics. Forty years ago, when we were all kids it seemed like the eighth wonder of the world. Now, it's the Twenty First Century and the human race is teetering on the brink of oblivion so, you know, ones sense of wonder seems to have become somewhat misplaced.
The very first Fenwick's window display - in 1971 - incidentally was based on the characters of Camberwick Green and Trumpton. Like many people of his age, this blogger remembers that one vividly. It seemed magic at the time ...
Still, this blogger managed to get pretty much everything he needed and/or had missed out on for the last month from his - entirely legal - visits to various shops before returning, safely, to the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House. 
Sky News presenter - and rude horrorshow (and drag) - Kay Burley has had her smug-arse extremely kicked off-air for six months after she admitted, eventually, to breaking Covid rules during a night out on with lash for her sixtieth birthday. Which is, frankly, almost as funny as soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump continuing to lose the same general erection over and over again and still coming back for more. Because Burley is a thoroughly odious waste-of-space, arse-licking Tory scumbag and any misfortunate which befalls her will, no doubt, be celebrated by the many people whom she has smugly abused as Uncle Rupert's Rottweiler over the past thirty years. Sky's political editor Beth Rigby and North of England correspondent Inzamam Rashid, who were among those with Burley, will be absent from Sky News for the next three months. 'I made a big mistake and I am sorry,' Burley snivelled on Twitter. One or two people even believed her. Burley was among ten people who went out to a restaurant on Saturday. She then moved on to a private residence where individuals from at least three different households mixed, according to BBC News. Burley, who joined Sky News in 1988 and has hosted their breakfast show since October 2019, first offered a - somewhat half-hearted - apology on Monday, claiming that she had been 'at a Covid-compliant restaurant' but had, 'inadvertently broke the rules' by 'popping to the toilet in the second restaurant.' London is currently under tier two restrictions, which means people are not allowed to socialise with anyone from outside their household or immediate support bubble indoors, either in a private home or a public place. Reacting to the reports, a spokesman for Sky told the BBC: 'We place the highest importance on complying with the government guidelines on Covid and we expect all our people to comply. We were disappointed to learn that a small number of Sky News staff may have engaged in activity that breached the guidelines.' Not angry, please note, just 'disappointed.' 'Although this took place at a social event in personal time, we expect all our people to follow the rules that are in place for everyone,' they added. Burley had previously grilled several politicians during the pandemic and in May questioned the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove about Dominic Cummings' controversial lockdown trip to Barnard Castle. Although, as usual, she let him off lightly. The Lack Of Culture Secretary The Vile and Odious Rascal Dowden somehow managed to shoehorn himself into this story when he 'publicly backed' Sky's decision not to sack Burley and Rigby. 'I have great respect for Kay Burley and Beth Rigby as journalists,' he slavvered to Times Radio. 'They've apologised, they've come off air. I think that is a suitable response.' Burley's 'I'm sorry I got caught'-style non-apology apology comes after the singer Rita Ora also claimed that she was very, very sorry for breaching the UK's Covid restrictions, after failing to self-isolate following a (highly publicised) trip to Egypt. For which she earned a sodding fortune. Once again, one or two people even believed her. She had previously apologised for another breach after throwing a birthday party at a London restaurant, seemingly being under the impression that rules apply to everyone else but her. Burley, meanwhile, has taken her punishment like a professional - by going on holiday to Richard Branson's fifteen-hundred-quid-a-night South African resort. Which is, obviously, exactly what one would expect from someone who is, genuinely, contrite that they've done wrong. Allegedly. 
Netflix says that it will not warn viewers of The Crown that some scenes in the popular drama are fictional. Responding to calls for an on-screen warning from the Lack of Culture Secretary The Vile and Odious Rascal Dowden, the streaming giant said that the series has 'always been billed as a drama. As a result we have no plans - and see no need - to add a disclaimer.' The Vile and Odious Rascal Dowden earlier claimed - with absolutely no supporting evidence - that 'younger viewers may mistake fiction for fact' when watching the fourth series, which shows the breakdown of the marriage between the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Crown's creator Peter Morgan has previously described the show as 'an act of creative imagination' with a 'constant push-pull' between research and drama. Its latest series has attracted criticism from some right-wing scumbags and people with an agenda to push for its depiction of royal events - in particular the marriage of Charles and Diana. The Lack Of Culture Secretary said last week that Netflix should make clear the show was fiction. 'I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact,' The Vile and Odious Rascal Dowden told the Scum Mail on Sunday who claimed that he had 'demanded' Netflix place a disclaimer at the beginning of every episode. Demanded, please note, not 'asked politely' which might have been more advisable when you're seeking to get someone to do what you want them too. That's the Scum Mail for you, dear blog reader, always throwing their weight around like a bunch of sick jack-booted bullyboy louse thugs. The Vile and Odious Rascal Dowden said that Netflix's 'beautifully produced work of fiction should be very clear at the beginning it is just that.' But the streaming giant said in a statement, first reported by the Scum Mail: 'We have always presented The Crown as a drama - and we have every confidence our members understand it's a work of fiction that is broadly based on historical events. As a result we have no plans - and see no need - to add a disclaimer.' Tragically, they didn't use the rest of the statement to suggest that The Vile and Odious Rascal Dowden (and, his lick-arse bullyboy louse chums at the Scum Mail) mind their own friggin' business in matters of artistic concern and stick to getting on with their own jobs. Whatever they may entail. In the case of The Vile and Odious Rascal Dowden, seemingly, being part of a government which is currently about as popular as The Black Death.
Mind you, dear blog reader, TV programmes being obliged to state in an on-screen caption that they were/are works of fiction would, admittedly, have some advantages. Like, you know, informing viewers that Wor Geet Canny Jodie Whittaker is not, in fact, a two thousand year old alien time traveller with two hearts and the ability to regenerate but, rather, an actress. This blogger can see how that might be quite useful in the great scheme of things.
The Royal Mint has - quite literally - launched a commemorative coin celebrating the career of David Bowie far above the world. The Mint, based in Llantrisant, sent the coin to an altitude of over thirty five thousand metres (that's just over twenty one miles) attached to a balloon as it revealed the third edition of its Music Legends coin series. One of the most influential musicians of his era, Bowie died of cancer in January 2016 aged sixty nine. You knew that, right? It was in all the papers and everything. It even featured on this blog, a sure sign that it was a quite important story. The one ounce silver proof coin journeyed for forty five minutes into space before safely descending and is being offered as a competition prize. The Mint said that the design had been inspired by an image of Bowie from his time living and recording in Berlin in the late 1970s. It also features the iconic lightning bolt motif from Aladdin Sane and seeks to 'capture Bowie's career journey.' Thanks to 'the latest innovative technology and manufacturing techniques,' the Mint said that the lightning bolt which features on a number of the special edition coins appears to be 'laced with stardust' to 'create a glitter effect.' Though, not a 'Gary Glitter effect.' Because that would be wrong on so many levels. 'In recognition of Bowie's first hit single 'Space Oddity', we felt it was fitting to send his coin into space and celebrate The Starman in his own pioneering fashion,' said Clare Maclennan, from The Mint. 'David Bowie's music has inspired and influenced generations of musicians and we hope this commemorative coin will be cherished by fans around the world.' 
Of course, dear blog reader, this was all eerily reminiscent of an episode of the BBC's ground-breaking early 1980s 'youf' sitcom The Young Ones. When, during a student house party, Neil The Hippy smokes some dynamite-strength ganja supplied by his friend, Warlock and has an out-of-body experience. Floating towards The Moon, he passes two American astronauts sitting in their tin-can spacecraft, staring at the Earth below. 'Hey, this is just like that song by David Bowie,' notes one. 'What, 'The Jean Genie'?' 'Yeah.' Oh, put your clothes on, Sooty ...
The RSPCA has written to the BBC to express its concerns over an 'irresponsible' documentary currently in production which is reportedly to be about 'young people breeding puppies for profit.' It said that the show, whose working title is Will My Puppies Make Me Rich?, could lead to 'serious dog welfare issues.' And, also, brain failure amongst any viewers who innocently sit down to watch such abject rancid crap. The BBC claimed that it would not 'glamorise' dog breeding and would 'highlight the importance of "good animal welfare."' One or two people even believed them. Producers, they added, will 'work closely with animal experts' and the title 'will be changed,' the BBC added. A petition calling for the show to be scrapped has reached more than sixty thousand signatories. The RSPCA said it had written to the BBC to 'encourage a rethink.' And, also, to name and shame the twenty four carat plank of an executive who thought this was a good idea in the first place. A trip to the vet would appear to be the least he (or she) deserves.
US test pilot Chuck Yeager, the first person to break the sound barrier, has died aged ninety seven, according to his wife. In a tweet, Victoria Yeager wrote: 'It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm.' Yeager went into the history books after his flight in the Bell X-1 experimental rocket plane in 1947. He later broke several other speed and altitude records, helping to pave the way for the US space programme. 'An incredible life well lived, America's greatest pilot and a legacy of strength, adventure and patriotism will be remembered forever,' his wife wrote, movingly. On 14 October 1947, Yeager's plane - nicknamed Glamorous Glennis, in honour of his first wife - was dropped from the bomb bay of a B-29 aircraft above the Mojave Desert. Yeager, who was at the time just twenty four, managed to break the speed of sound at an altitude of forty five thousand feet. It was a feat of considerable courage, as nobody was certain at the time whether an aircraft could even survive the shockwaves of a sonic boom. The public was only told about the mission in June 1948. Yeager's success was later immortalised in the Tom Wolfe book The Right Stuff and a subsequent film adaptation in which Yeager himself appeared in a cameo. He played Fred, a bartender at Pancho's Place, which was most appropriate, as Yeager said, 'if all the hours were ever totalled, I reckon I spent more time at [Pancho's] place than in a cockpit over those years.' His own role in the movie was played by Sam Shepard in the movie which told Yeager's story and that of his seven fellow test pilots who formed the NASA Mercury astronauts group. From his early years as a fighter ace in World War II to the last time he broke the sound barrier in 2012 - at the age of eighty nine - Chuck Yeager became the most decorated US pilot ever. The airport that serves Charleston, West Virginia, is named after Chuck Yeager. In 2000, Yeager met actress Victoria Scott D'Angelo on a hiking trail in Nevada County following the death of his first wife, Glennis in 1990 from cancer. He is survived by Victoria and by three children from his first marriage, Susan, Don and Sharon. Yeager was predeceased by another son, Mickey, who died in Oregon in 2011.
The former Italian football legend Paolo Rossi, who led the national team to victory in the 1982 World Cup, has died aged sixty four. His wife, the journalist Federica Cappelletti posted on Instagram a picture of them together with the words 'Per sempre' ('forever'). She did not disclose the cause of his death. Italian media are reporting that he'd had a long illness. Rossi was the top scorer and the best player of the 1982 tournament in Spain. His memorable hat-trick eliminated favourites Brazil in a match many fans regard as one of the greatest in World Cup history. Rossi almost missed the competition after being banned from all football for almost two full seasons from 1980 for his involvement in the Totonero match-fixing scandal whilst playing with Perugia. Despite the ban, Rossi always claimed to be innocent, and stated that he had been a victim of an injustice. He had only played three matches for his new club, Juventus before being selected for the World Cup squad. At club level, the striker was also a prolific goalscorer for unfashionable Lanerossi Vicenza (sixty six goals in one hundred games). He also played for a number of other Serie A outfits, including Juve (with whom he won two Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia, the European Cup and the Cup Winners Cup during the early 1980s) and AC Milan. During his time with the latter, he was remembered for his two-goal performance against Internazionale in the Milan derby. Making his debut for the Italian national side in 1977, Rossi appearance in the squads for three World Cups for the Azzuri, 1978, 1982 and 1986 (although he didn't play in the latter due to injury). He also won the Ballon d'Or in 1982, the same year in which he was named World Soccer Player of The Year. After retiring from football in the late 1980s, Rossi worked as a pundit for Sky Italia, Mediaset and Rai. He is survived by his second wife, Federica and by three children.
Dame Barbara Windsor, who died this week at the age of eighty three, became the nation's favourite pin-up, the bubbly blonde who packed a lot of personality into her four feet ten inch frame. Her journey from saucy minx in the Carry On films to the matriarch of the Queen Vic in EastEnders made her a national treasure. Her teenage life was troubled. She was rejected by her father, something that drove her into a string of stormy personal relationships. But she went on to be a consummate actress who carved out a successful career on both stage and screen. 
     Barbara Ann Deeks was born in Shoreditch in August 1937, the daughter of a fruit and veg street seller and a dressmaker. Her mother, Rose, had great ambitions for Babs, paying for elocution lessons in an attempt to lose her cockney accent and move her up the social ladder. Windsor later said that her mother's family felt she had married beneath her. A bright child, she sailed though her eleven-plus examination. Her mother wanted her to go to university but she persuaded her otherwise by her performance in a school show. Rose spent her savings on a place for Barbara at the Aida Foster School in Golders Green. The teachers took their turn in trying to iron out her cockney accent but, all failed. Barbara made her stage debut at the age of thirteen. Her father, John, walked out on the family when Barbara was fifteen and her mother forced her to give evidence at the divorce hearing, something she never forgot. The unhappiness of her home life drove her to seek solace in a string of casual relationships, which led to her having three abortions by the time she was twenty one. She had changed her name to Windsor when she appeared in her first film in 1954, as one of the schoolgirls in The Belles of St Trinian's. Her big break came when she joined Joan Littlewood's company at the Theatre Royal in Stratford appearing in Lionel Bart's influential (and controversial) London musical Fings Ain't Wot They Used To Be. Her role as Maggie Gooding in Littlewood's 1963 film Sparrers Can't Sing gained her a BAFTA nomination. There were also early roles in TV sitcoms including the BBC's The Rag Trade, which ran for two years from 1961. East End social life saw showbusiness intermingling with local gang culture and Windsor became friends with the Kray twins and their murderous entourage. She dated older brother Charlie Kray for six months - 'the most perfect gentleman I have ever known' - and also had a, brief, relationship with Reggie - before he, messily, murdered Frankie The Mad Axeman and Jack The Hat in an orgy of blood-splattered carnage, obviously. In 1964, she married a rather more small-time criminal, Ronnie Knight, beginning an often stormy union which lasted more than twenty years.
In the same year, she was cast in Carry On Spying, the ninth film in the successful comedy franchise and the last to be shot in black and white. Her saucy laugh and flirtatious behaviour were perfect for the seaside postcard innuendo on which the success of the films was based. But she was adamant that beneath the on-screen character was a serious actress. 'I am not like my image,' she once said. 'Everyone thinks I just bounce in, but I study and everything has to be just right.' Although she appeared in only a third of the Carry On series, they defined her career and later made it difficult to escape the inevitable typecasting. Arguably her most memorable appearance was in Carry On Camping, when her bikini top flew off during some strenuous physical exercise. The scene - complete with Kenneth Williams' legendary comment: 'Ooo, Matron, take them away!' - had to be shot three times, with the garment being removed by the deft use of a fishing rod in the hands of an off-screen assistant. During her Carry On career she had a ten-year affair with co-star Sid James, which ended just before the actor's death in 1976. It was later portrayed in the ITV drama Cor Blimey!, on which Windsor acted as an advisor. At first, she fended him off, but his infatuation continued. 'I cared deeply for him,' she recalled. 'I didn't at first, he was just my leading man and I used to push him off. But he was an old-fashioned charmer, opening doors and all the rest of it, making you feel like a lady. So our relationship was inevitable.' In between the Carry On films she continued her stage career, receiving a TONY Award nomination for the Broadway production of Oh! What A Lovely War.
She also starred as the music hall performer Marie Lloyd in the biopic Sing A Rude Song, a role she reprised in the BBC series The Good Old Days. In the mid-1970s she toured with her own stage show, Carry On Barbara and appeared as Maria in Twelfth Night at Chichester Festival Theatre. But, as she reached her forties, the image of the bubbly blonde with the sexy wiggle was hampering her ability to get work. 'I found myself in the doldrums in the early 1990s. I was too old to play the dolly bird any longer and I looked too young to play a woman of my real age.' She did get the part of the raunchy landlady in a stage production of Joe Orton's black comedy Entertaining Mister Sloane, which was directed by her Carry On co-star and close friend Kenneth Williams. Her marriage to Ronnie was coming to an end, after he fled to Spain following his involvement in a multi-million-pound robbery from a security company. Her career received a major boost in 1994 when she was chosen to play landlady Peggy Mitchell in the BBC soap EastEnders. Ironically, she had spent some of the previous few years pulling pints in a pub in Buckinghamshire that she owned with her second husband, Stephen Hollings. She admitted that she had found the idea of EastEnders daunting, joining what was an already well-established drama. 'I was as scared starting on EastEnders as I was when I first stepped on to the Carry On set,' she later recalled. 'I had to prove myself in a different world.' She based the character of Peggy on Violet Kray, the matriarch of the gang family she had known so well in her youth. On set she found herself acting as a mother figure to many of the soap's young actors, some of whom had no formal training in drama. And, at the age of seventy, she told one interviewer that she still got a thrill from being wolf-whistled in the street. She was forced out of the soap for two years after contracting the debilitating Epstein-Barr virus at the end of 2002, which left her bedridden. There was a brief return in 2004, but she was not well enough to resume the role full-time until the following year. Shortly after picking up a lifetime achievement award at the British Soap Awards, she announced she was quitting EastEnders to spend more time with her third husband, Scott Mitchell. 'I'll be so sad to leave Peggy behind,' she said at the time. 'She's such a wonderful character to play.' There was also a problem that she withheld from her fans. She had begun finding it hard to learn her lines and she kept repeating certain sentences and stories. After a series of mental agility tests and a brain scan, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2014. 'I'm so sorry,' she mouthed to her husband. Two years later she filmed her final scenes as Peggy Mitchell. EastEnders were reluctant to kill off such an iconic character but she rang the producers to insist. Her husband Scott went to see them to make sure they understood this really was the end. 'Look into my eyes,' he said. 'She is not coming back.' On set they had an autocue ready but she did not need it. Peggy Mitchell, terminally ill with breast cancer, took a lethal overdose of pills and died in her sleep. In the 2016 New Year's Honours, Barbara was made a Dame for her services to charity and entertainment. But soon afterwards, her Alzheimer's became more difficult to hide. By the time she turned eighty in August 2017, a continual confusion had set in. She made her final screen appearance in 2017's biopic Babs, in which her younger self was played by Samantha Spiro. She became more and more housebound, upset at having to keep her secret from the fans who flocked to her whenever she set foot outside. In May 2018, she made the decision to go public with her condition and was still well enough to feel overwhelmed by the warmth of the public reaction. Dame Barbara may have retreated from the public gaze but around her friends and family took on the role of campaigning and fundraising for dementia care in her honour. Adam Woodyatt and Jake Wood were among several of the EastEnders cast who ran the London Marathon in 2019 in a team called Barbara's Revolutionaries. 'It means so much to me to see some of my closest friends coming together to support this cause,' Dame Barbara said. 'I know it will mean a lot to everyone else living with dementia.' Later that year Dame Barbara put her name to an open letter with her husband calling on the Prime Minister for a 'long-term funding solution to end the social care crisis.' It coincided with the couple's appointment as ambassadors for the Alzheimer's Society. In July 2020, Barbara's husband had to make the difficult decision to move her into a care home as her condition deteriorated during the Coronavirus lockdown. Both on and off-screen Dame Barbara will be remembered as the sex-pot with a heart of gold, navigating a complicated and sometimes tumultuous private life. She enjoyed her successes, faced life's challenges bravely and found happiness in her final marriage to Scott.
As 2020 comes to a close, dear blog reader, the solar system has decided to grace us with a moment of cosmic majesty that hasn't been witnessed in nearly eight hundred years. On 21 December, Jupiter and Saturn will align so closely in the night sky that they will almost appear to collide from our vantage point, creating a radiant point of light often referred to as the Star of Bethlehem or the Christmas Star. You would need to get in your -socially-isolated - TARDIS and go all the way back to just before dawn on 4 March 1226, to see a closer alignment between these planets visible in the night sky. 'Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every twenty years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to be to one another,' said Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University, according to Forbes. The event, sometimes referred to as The Great Conjunction, occurs roughly every nineteen or twenty years, but this is the closest the planets will line up since the Middle Ages. Technically, Saturn will be ten astronomical units from Earth and Jupiter will be five au away, but they will appear to be less than the diameter of a full moon apart. To catch a glimpse of the phenomenon for yourself, make sure you have a clear view to the South West about forty five minutes after sunset on 21 December (the Winter Solstice). The planets will be at their closest then, but the Christmas Star will be visible from anywhere on Earth for about one hour after sunset in the Northern hemisphere for the entire fourth week of December. If you're viewing with a telescope, you may also be able to see Jupiter and Saturn's largest moons orbiting them. The next Great Conjunction this close won't happen until March 2080.
Dwight Gayle scored the winner on his first appearance of the season as this blogger's beloved (though unsellable and, currently plague-ridden) Magpies returned from a Coronavirus-enforced absence to heap more misery on struggling West Bromwich Albinos. Gayle, who was injured during a pre-season friendly against Crewe, came off the bench to find the net with a superb header eight minutes from time at The St James' Park Plague House on Saturday. The Magpies, playing for the first time in more than two weeks, were given the lead after just twenty seconds by Miguel Almiron. West Brom's improvement after half-time was rewarded by Darnell Furlong's equaliser. But Gayle's strike against a club where he once spent time on-loan lifted Newcastle to eleventh in the Premier League table. With his side having been beaten in five of their past six games, Baggies boss Slaven Bilic said 'I don't get those signals or that information' when asked if his position is under threat. Newcastle's training ground was closed for a week after a Covid-19 outbreak which caused their game against Aston Villa to be postponed following their two-nil victory at Crystal Palace a fortnight ago. The Magpies only returned to training on Tuesday after a period in which the players were forced to self-isolate, with manager Steve Brucie - nasty to see him, to see him nasty - saying that, as of Monday, he had 'huge doubts' over how many players he would have available for this fixture. As it turned out, Bruce was only missing two players that started in the win at Crystal Palace, though the absence of both Federico Fernandez and Javier Manquillo left a defensive shortage which midfielder Isaac Hayden filled with aplomb. After their enforced lay-off, the hosts flew out of the blocks through Almiron's rapid strike and continued to have the better of the first half, posing a constant threat on the break. Almiron's opener after twenty seconds was Newcastle's second fastest Premier League goal after Alan Shearer netted ten seconds into a game against Manchester City in January 2003. Something that Big Al was mercilessly reminded of by his oppos Gary Lineker and Ian Wright on Match Of The Day later that evening (both of whom reckoned Shearer's strike should've been ruled out for handball!) United were in complete control for most of the first-half and could - and probably should - have extended their lead with both Almiron and Joelinton having opportunities. However, West Brom grew into the game at the end of the opening forty five minutes, improved further after a half-time rejig and were rewarded with Furlong's equaliser. Pushed back, Newcastle introduced Gayle to make his return from a knee injury suffered pre-season. He immediately saw a header cleared off the line by Matt Phillips, but another header, from a wonderful cross supplied by fellow substitute (and, fellow former West Brom loanee) Jacob Murphy, left Sam Johnstone with no chance. 'I can't give enough credit to the players and the staff who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes over the last couple of weeks and certainly the medical department whose decision to shut us down was spot on,' said Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty). 'We've got a good couple of wins and a huge month coming up and we could do with a fully fit squad, so let's brush it down and try not to get carried away yet - but I couldn't be more pleased.' From a West Brom kick-off, a long ball saw Branislav Ivanovic outmuscled by Callum Wilson, with Joelinton collecting the ball to square for the free Almiron, who finished with aplomb from an angle. The Baggies were disjointed and toothless, missing the guile of Matheus Pereira, who was beginning his suspension for last week's red card. After two goals in the past two weeks, Conor Gallagher kick-started West Brom before Bilic's half-time intervention breathed some life into his team. The experienced Charlie Austin was introduced to provide a threat up front, while Phillips was released to play further forward. It was Phillips' deep cross that provided the goal, Furlong energetically nipping in ahead of the dithering Jamaal Lewis to poke a smart finish inside the post. Just as Bilic changed the game with his substitutions, so too did Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) with the decisive introduction of Gayle and Murphy. Newcastle have won three of their past five Premier League home games, one more than they had in their previous eleven at the St James' Park Plague House.