Sunday, May 09, 2021

"There Is No Evil Angel But Love"

Another week, dear blog reader, another bloggerisationisms update here at From The North. Which is nice.
The BBC is reported to be 'shocked' - and stunned - to hear allegations by several women that the actor Noel Clarke sexually harassed them on the set of Doctor Who. Clarke played Mickey Smith in the BBC drama from 2005 to 2006 and then in a couple of further episodes in 2008 and 2010. You knew that, right? The Gruniad Morning Star has quoted five women, including an unnamed actress, who it says have claimed that he touched them inappropriately or made sexual remarks. He has denied all of these claims. He has previously 'vehemently' denied any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing. Before apologising. The latest reports come a week after twenty women told the Gruniad that Clarke had harassed or bullied them during his career as a TV and film actor, writer, director and producer. Last week, he said he understood that 'some of my actions have affected people in ways I did not intend or realise' and said he was 'deeply sorry' to those people. But he denied that his actions constituted sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing. He told the Gruniad Morning Star that he strongly denied the latest allegations. A BBC spokesman said: 'The BBC is against all forms of inappropriate behaviour and we're shocked to hear of these allegations. To be absolutely clear, we will investigate any specific allegations made by individuals to the BBC - and if anyone has been subjected to or witnessed inappropriate behaviour of any kind we would encourage them to raise it with us directly. We have a zero tolerance approach and robust processes are in place - which are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect best practice - to ensure any complaints or concerns are handled with the utmost seriousness and care.' Last week, Sky halted its work with Clarke, including on the fourth series of the crime drama Bulletproof, while ITV dropped the final episode of his drama Viewpoint from its broadcast schedules. The BBC said that it would 'not be progressing any projects with Noel Clarke at this time.' BAFTA has suspended his membership, weeks after giving him an outstanding contribution award and the Metropolitan Police said they have received allegations of sexual offences from a third party. Meanwhile on Friday, Doctor Who and Torchwood actor John Barrowman was said by the Gruniad to have 'repeatedly exposed himself' on set. Although, the Gruniad added, 'numerous witnesses described the incidents as inappropriate pranks rather than anything amounting to sexually predatory behaviour.' So, there you have it, dear blog reader, the Gruniad considers that John Barrowman's is a 'non-threatening penis' it would seem. Which is jolly good news for anyone who has ever been menaced by it. A video of Clarke joking - somewhat sneeringly - about Barrowman's behaviour at a 2014 SF convention in Chicago resurfaced and went viral last week. In 2008, Barrowman apologised for exposing his genitals during a live Radio 1 broadcast. At the time, he said he 'was joining in the light-hearted and fun banter of the show and went too far.' In a new statement to the Gruniad, he said that his 'high-spirited behaviour' was 'only ever intended in good humour to entertain colleagues on set and backstage.' He added: 'With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously. Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.' The Gruniad quotes Russell Davies and Julie Gardner, executive producers on Doctor Who at the time these alleged incidents took place as saying, that had complaints been made at the time, action would have been taken. 
Meanwhile, according to a hilariously mangled - and entirely unconfirmed - report from some plank of no importance at the Daily Mirra, 'lost Doctor Who episodes starring William Hartnell [are to be] regenerated as cartoons.' By which they mean, it would appear, that the latest 1960s story to be animated for a DVD release may (or may not) be 1965's Galaxy Four. In an effort, presumably, to get The Chumblies into the shops before Christmas. 
The BBC has commented on the future of From The North favourite Line Of Duty following last week's finale. Ahead of the series six finale's broadcast on Sunday 2 May, the show's creator Jed Mercurio had paid tribute to his cast and crew and thanked the BBC for 'six incredible seasons.' 'Viewers were then left wondering if the show would return due to the feeling of finality in the episode, which has been widely panned as "disappointing" after being watched by a staggering number of people in the UK,' according to some smear at the Independent. And by 'widely panned' they mean 'whinged about by half-a-dozen malcontents on Twitter whose views matter not in the slightest except to Middle Class hippy Communist journalists who believe that social media is "the sole arbiter of the worth of all things."' Which, just in case you agree with them, it isn't. And, whilst were about it, who uses the word 'panned' to mean 'whinged about' in anything other than an ironic sense? The BBC - seemingly nowhere near as bothered by the whinging of some malcontents on Twitter as the Indi and the Gruniad Morning Star - has suggested it is more than happy for the show to continue should Mercurio want to make more. And, considering that the finale had an overnight audience of almost thirteen million punters - most of whom aren't members of the Twatterati - who can, honestly, express any surprise at this 'news'? In a statement, the BBC's Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore said: 'I'm looking forward to having a conversation with the team about where we go next and what the future of the series might be.' Moore added: 'Addictive event television, Line Of Duty has kept the nation guessing for the last seven weeks, so it's no surprise that last night's jaw dropping finale set a ratings record.' She hailed Mercurio as 'a master of his craft,' continuing: 'I would like to congratulate him and the entire cast and crew for delivering such an incredible drama series.'
And, speaking of Jed Mercurio, the Line Of Duty creator has, very satisfyingly, bee-atch slapped one of the whinging malcontents on Twitter down into the gutter along with all the other turds. It was, dear blog reader, quite a sight to see. One trusts that 'Lorraine from the London area' was suitably chastened after receiving such a beautifully delivered withering put-down in front of all of her Twitter peers. That's what you get when you mess with Jed Mercurio, Lorraine from the London area. Bigger - and better paid - gobshites than you have tried before and received an even more vicious (metaphorical) slap in the mush. Take that there Cressida Dickhead, for one. 
Whilst many of us have occupied ourselves during the on going pandemic by performing some minor home improvements, for the former comedian Adrian Edmondson the usually straightforward act of cleaning his windows took a turn for the worse, according to a piece of gossip masquerading as 'journalism' in, of course, the Gruniad Morning Star. Edmondson described having to be rescued by fire services after getting himself trapped on his window ledge, saying that he had to ask passers-by to get help but that, despite the precarious position, the fire brigade 'didn't snigger too much' when they carried him to safety. Some of Edmondson's three hundred thousand plus followers on Twitter used the confession to link to his previous work, claiming that it sounded like a scene featuring his characters in The Young Ones or Bottom - when he used to be funny - and that it would have no doubt greatly amused his former comedy partner and co-star, the late, great Rik Mayall. The Gruniad then went on to expand four sodding paragraphs of newsprint and bandwidth on repeating several - not especially amusing - replies sent to Ade about his mishap. Trees died to bring you this crap, dear blog reader.
The Circle will not be returning to Channel Four, after three years on our screens. Because it was shit and no one was watching it, which is the reason why the vast majority of cancelled shows get cancelled in the first place. The only outstanding issue now, is for Channel Four to identify the brain-damaged moron or the victim of a cruel medical experiment who commissioned this atrocious banal slop in the first place and relieve them of their employment. Based around catfishing (no, me neither) and social media, contestants chat online and vote each other off based on popularity. And, trust this blogger, it was every single bit as horrific and vile as tat description makes it sound. The series was, for example, a prominent feature in From The North's Worst TV Shows of 2018 list. 'It was hosted by Maya Jama and Alice Levine - both of whom should be sodding ashamed of themselves - and has been compared to Big Brother,' this blogger wrote at the time. 'So, in other words, it's a TV format ripping off another TV format ... The series was won by twenty six-year-old "Internet comedian" (whatever that means) Alex Hobern, who had played the game claiming to be a twenty five-year-old woman called Kate, using photos of his real-life girlfriend, Millie. A single sentence which should sum up to everyone who avoided The Circle like the plague why you made entirely the right decision. This is television in Twenty First Century dear blog reader. Horrifying, isn't it?' It had three regular series and one featuring z-list alleged celebrity type individuals, each with contestants living in the same block of flats during the show. A spokesman for Channel Four lied: 'The Circle has been a huge hit for young audiences and has grown successively over three seasons.' And we know that's a lie because, if it wasn't, there's no way it would have been cancelled. The Z-List Celebrity Circle was won by Lady Leshurr (no, me neither), who pretended to be one Big Narstie. No one knows why.
The story that From The North favourite Susanna Hoffs was 'pranked' into singing the vocal on The Bangles 1987 number one 'Eternal Flame' whilst naked by the song's producer Davitt Sigerson is not new. Susanna mentioned it in the 2015 BBC documentary I'm In A Girl Group and, prior to that, in a 2012 interview with Rock Cellar magazine. But, that didn't stop the Gruniad Morning Star from treating this amusing but somewhat lightweight story as an 'exclusive' in a recent piece. 'Davitt had recently produced Olivia Newton-John and pranked me by telling me she did her best vocals in the nude,' Sussana told interviewer Amy Fleming who, seemingly, couldn't believe her luck at the 'scoop' she'd just been given. 'I imagined it would feel like skinny dipping - vulnerable yet freeing - and I decided to try it. Nobody could see me; there was a baffle in front of me and it was dark. After the first song went so well, I became superstitious about it, like in sports where you have to have your rabbit’s foot, and ended up compelled to skinny dip my way through most of the album.'
A recent discussion on Facebook focused this blogger's attention on the history of the BBC's acquisition of Star Trek back in the day. The popular American SF drama (you might've heard of it) was bought by the BBC in either late 1968 or early 1969 at almost exactly the same time that, in the US, NBC were in the process of cancelling it (production on the final episode, Turnabout Intruder, wrapped in Los Angeles on 3 January 1969). It's worth remembering, of course, that contrary to the iconic worldwide status the franchise subsequently achieved, Star Trek was never a hit in America, either critically or commercially, during its initial run - constantly being on the verge of cancellation during its three series after its debut in 1966. When this blogger was co-authoring The Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide in the early 1990s, the question of when, exactly, knowledge of Star Trek first arrived in the corridors of the BBC cropped up. Some of the later Patrick Troughton Doctor Who stories seemed to contain a few, stray, elements which could, at a stretch, have been described as being 'inspired' by aspects Star Trek. Albeit they were mostly aesthetic - like, for instance, Dudley Simpson's eerie choral-heavy music for the opening sequence in The Ice Warriors (produced in the autumn of 1967). Certainly the LP Leonard Nimoy Presents Mister Spock's Music From Outer Space had received a UK release - on Dot Records - in 1967 (a full two years before the series finally turned up on telly in Britain) although whether Dudley, or anyone else at the BBC, had heard it at that stage is unknown.
Myself and my fellow authors asked Terrance Dicks - then Doctor Who's script editor - when he first recalled hearing about Star Trek. He noted that he and producers Derrick Sherwin and Peter Bryant had been shown a handful of Star Trek episodes by the BBC's then head of drama, Shaun Sutton, during the period before the BBC committed to purchased the series and had been asked for their opinions on it. They had, Terrance recalled, been positive although he doubted that - with its far higher production budget - the series had much of an influence over Doctor Who at that time. The BBC thus became the broadcaster for Star Trek in the UK for the next twenty years. Curiously, episodes were not shown in either US broadcast or production order (although unlike NBC in America, the Where No Man Has Gone Before pilot episode was shown first by the BBC, on 12 July 1969. Stark Trek was, initially, placed in Doctor Who's traditional 5.15pm Saturday tea-time slot, sandwiched between Grandstand and the Simon Dee chat show, the sixth series of Doctor Who having concluded with the final episode of The War Games on 21 June.
The first twenty five Star Trek episodes broadcast in the UK, a combination of stories from the first and second US series', ran during 1969 until 27 December (meaning, for example, that the character of Chekov was introduced to UK viewers earlier than he had been to those in the USA). The BBC edited some episodes of their more violent content and/or for timing reasons. There seemed to be no obvious rationale for the order in which episodes were broadcast - for example, one of the series most famous stories, The City On The Edge Of Forever, the twenty eighth episode to be broadcast in the US was shown third in the UK run (on 26 July). Other early highlights included the two-part The Menagerie (shown on 23 August and 30 August) and The Devil In The Dark (6 September). All episodes were broadcast in black and white up to and including another of this blogger's favourites, What Are Little Girls Made Of? on 8 November. The following Saturday was BBC1's first full day of colour broadcasting and the first episode of Star Trek to benefit from this technological leap forward was another memorable one, Arena. At which point people in Britain were shocked - and stunned - to discover that Starfleet uniforms were, actually, red, yellow and blue rather than the various shades of grey they had previously assumed them to be.
Following the return of Doctor Who in January 1970, the BBC reassessed their placement of Star Trek, moving it to Monday evenings at 7.10pm when it returned on 6 April 1970. The second 'series' - twenty one episodes - were mostly drawn from the second US series, with a few leftovers from the first and included the debut UK broadcasts of such well-remembered stories as The Trouble With Tribbles (1 June 1970), Bread & Circuses (8 June) and Journey To Babel (22 June). The run concluded with A Piece Of The Action on 7 September 1970. However, within a month the show returned, switched again, this time to Wednesday evenings at either 7.10pm or 7.20pm from 7 October for a further seventeen episodes. This featured a rag-tag mixture of episodes from all three US series, including the first UK showings of Mirror, Mirror (11 November) and Amok Time (25 November).
However, problems lay ahead. On 2 December 1970 the BBC showed the last remaining unbroadcast first series episode, Miri. Almost certainly it had been held back to this point because someone sensed the episode, with its storyline concerning a community of feral, Lord Of The Flies-type children might be problematic when shown in what was still seen as, essentially, a 'family viewing' slot. Sure enough, the episode did prompt more than the usual number of complaints from parents who considered it to be too disturbing for seven year olds. The BBC seemingly agreed; the corporation looked through the rest of the episodes which they hadn't shown up to that point and decided that three - The Empath, Whom God's Destroy and Plato's Stepchildren - couldn't be edited to an acceptable level and were, therefore, effectively, 'banned'. (Rumours persist to this day - as this article proves - that the real reason the latter was on the disapproved list was due to the US controversy over the episode's famous inter-racial kiss rather than anything related to violence. Whether that's true or not, we may never know.) The Empath had, in fact, been due to go out on BBC1 on 16 December 1970 and was even listed as such in the Radio Times but it was replaced by The Paradise Syndrome at the eleventh hour.
The final batch of fifteen Star Trek episodes were broadcast on BBC1 in 1971, starting with Spectre Of The Gun on 15 September. This included the series worst episode, the risible Spock's Brain (13 October) and concluding with Turnabout Intruder on 15 December, the last UK debut for a Star Trek episode for over twenty years. Along with Miri the three unbroadcast episodes remained unbroadcast throughout the regular (and hugely popular) BBC repeat runs of the 1970s and 1980s. Because 'they all dealt most unpleasantly with the already unpleasant subjects of madness, torture, sadism and disease,' the BBC said in a reply sent to the Star Trek Action Group, a fan collective who, in 1976, had written to the Beeb asking, politely, why those three episodes had never been shown in Britain.
There was, eventually, a happy conclusion to all this nonsense. The story goes that, following the success of the BBC's broadcast of the first three series of The Next Generation (1990 to 1992), the corporation decided to, again, repeat the entire original Star Trek series this time on BBC2 starting with the first UK showing of the original pilot, The Cage (18 August 1992). However, when they looked at their film copies of the 1960s episodes, they were rather battered, scratched and faded after twenty years of regular showings. So, the BBC ordered a complete new set of prints from America. And it was, seemingly, only at this stage that they looked again at the 'banned' episodes and wondered 'why are these on the banned list?' given how much the world had changed in the ensuring two decades since those decisions had been made. So, the first UK broadcasts of the three previously unbroadcast episodes took place around Christmas and New Year of 1993-94 (22 December 1993, 5 January 1994 and 19 January 1994). Perhaps surprisingly, given the controversial nature of the whole issue, the BBC didn't make a particularly big deal in terms of publicity surrounding these 'first' broadcasts and it is probable that some of the audience outside of the chalk circle of rabid Star Trek fandom, didn't even realise they were watching episodes they had never seen before. The run also saw the first UK broadcast of Miri in twenty two years. And, also, because of various edits which had been made over the years that was the first occasion the majority of UK viewers had ever seen Star Trek episodes in full as originally broadcast in America.  
Records that yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been trying to track down a copy of for far too long that he's finally managed to lay his hands on via the Interweb. Part one (of a potentially on-going series). The George Martin Orchestra Gets Shafted. 'Y'all take this honky out an' waste him!'
According to the BBC News website, Coldplay's Chris Martin says lockdown made him confront his ego. So, seemingly, what our mothers used to tell us was true, dear blog reader, every cloud does have a silver lining. Now, hopefully Martin's 'confrontation with his ego' will have resulted in him not making any more of those wretched records which sold in their millions - to Middle Class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers, mostly - but, when played, evaporated on contact with the ear. We can but dream, dear blog reader. Dreaming (as Blondie - as far better band than bloody Coldplay - once said) is free.
Two jellyfish were swimming in the sea, dear blog reader. One said to the other: 'Have you heard about Harry?' The other jellyfish replied that he had not. 'What's up with him?' 'You'll never guess who he stung,' said the first jellyfish. 'He only went and stung Sting?' 'Harry stung Sting?' asked the second jellyfish. 'Sting, the former singer with The Police.' 'Yeah.' 'Sting, the lute playing, tantric sex advocate and would-be saviour of the planet?' 'The very same.' 'So,' asked the second jellyfish, 'what happened?' 'Aw, man, it was a total tragedy,' replied the first jellyfish. 'He was in so much pain. They tried peeing on it, they tried medication, they tried even stronger medication, they tried positive thinking, nothing worked. The doctors couldn't do anything for him.' 'That's terrible,' said the second jellyfish. 'You're telling me, mate. After three days of screaming uncontrollable agony and hallucinations, poor Harry died ...' Nah, listen ...
The lawyer for a Delaware man charged over the Capitol attack in January is reported to be floating a unique defence: FAUX News made him do it. Anthony Antonio, who is facing five charges including violent entry, disorderly conduct, impeding law enforcement during civil disorder and general naughtiness in a public arena, fell prey to the persistent lies about the so-called 'stolen election' being spread daily by now extremely former President Mister Rump and the right-wing scumbag network that served him, his attorney Joseph Hurley claimed during a video hearing on Thursday. Antonio spent the six months before the riots mainlining FAUX News while extremely unemployed, Hurley said, likening the side effects of such a steady diet of misinformation to a mental health syndrome. 'Fox television played constantly,' Hurley said. 'He became hooked with what I call "Foxitis" or "Foxmania" and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him.' Antonio's segment was somehow only the second most notable part of the hearing according to media reports. 'Another defendant shouted obscenities, sending the proceedings into near chaos at one point.' Hurley's argument calls to mind the infamous 'The Devil made me do it' defence, although one might argue The Devil has nothing on the prolific manipulators at FAUX News. And, whilst there is certainly an element of believability to the harmful nature of persistent right-wing scumbag propaganda effectively manipulating a person's ability to distinguish fact from reality it remains to be seen whether or not there is considered to be any legal merit to such a claim. For Fox's sake, if noting else. Multiple videos obtained by the FBI from the day of the riot appear to show Antonio as being especially active in the chaos. He is seen wearing a bulletproof vest featuring a patch of the anti-government extremist group The Three Percenters. At one point in video footage he can be seen shouting at officers: 'You want war? We got war. 1776 all over again.' It was a revolutionary sentiment spread by the radical right-wing congresswoman Lauren Boebert and others on the day. Elsewhere, Antonio is seen with a riot shield that appeared to have been stolen from law enforcement, squirting liquid on an officer being dragged into a crowd, stealing a gas mask and jumping through a broken window into the Capitol. FAUX News has continued to spread misinformation about what happened that day. The network is currently being sued for billions of dollars by two voting machine companies, Smartmatic and Dominion, for spreading lies about their role in the alleged 'theft' of the erection.
Billie Hayes, whose portrayal of the flamboyantly and comically wicked witch Witchiepoo on the Saturday morning live-action children's classic HR Pufnstuf, died of natural causes on 29 April at Cedar's Hospital in Los Angeles. She was ninety six. Her death was announced by her family. A Broadway veteran by the time she reached national fame as the flute-stealing nemesis to a psychedelic dragon, Hayes had starred as Mammy Yokum in both the Broadway and film versions of the popular late-1950s musical Lil' Abner. She made her Broadway debut in New Faces Of 1956 along with an ensemble that included Maggie Smith. Following a couple of guest appearances on episodic TV in 1967 - including a Mammy Yokum-type matriarch in the Hillbilly Honeymoon episode of The Monkees - Hayes endeared herself to a generation of glued-to-the-TV Saturday morning viewers in 1969 as the eccentrically costumed, ever-cackling and always bumbling Wilhelmina W Witchiepoo. With a performance panache that was so-over-the-top-it-was-down-the-other-side even by the standards of the Sid and Marty Krofft universe of costumed creatures, Hayes was an immediate scene-stealer. Though Witchiepoo was the HR Pufnstuf nominal villain, intent on stealing the magical talking Freddy the Flute as if he were a pair of ruby slippers, Hayes' wildly entertaining vaudeville, slapstick style had legions of young viewers rooting her on to a victory that never came. 'Why me?,' she would constantly whine after the inevitable backfiring of her latest evil scheme. Born in Du Quoin, Illinois, Hayes began her showbusiness career aged nine, dancing professionally in local nightclubs. While still in high school, she joined the fourteen-piece regional orchestra of Vince Genovese and performed solo in her teens in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. After moving to New York, Hayes performed selections from her nightclub song-and-dance routine in an audition for famed theater impresario J. Shubert, who was so taken with her comic and musical talents that he cast her in principal roles of three roadshow operettas: Student Prince, The Merry Widow and Blossom Time. Soon, she was co-starring with fellow newcomer Paul Lynde in the New York revue What's New?, which led to her Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman's New Faces show. She then took over the role of Mammy Yokum from the original cast's Charlotte Rae, finding herself alongside another up-and-comer in the replacement cast, Valerie Harper. Hayes, with old-age make-up, a white wig and a long-stemmed pipe, would reprise the role in Paramount's 1959 film adaptation of Lil' Abner and, in 1971, a TV-movie version. She would return to the stage in the late 1960s as the character Minnie Fay in the national touring company of Hello, Dolly! starring Betty Grable. After her 1969 arrival in the cult Sid and Marty Krofft series, which also starred Jack Wild as the on-the-run Dorothy Gale-stand-in Jimmy and, providing the voice of Pufnstuf The Dragon, Lennie Weinrib (actor Roberto Gamonet was inside the puffy, full-body green-and-yellow costume), Hayes had found what would be her signature role. She returned as the character in the 1970 feature film adaptation Pufnstuf, along with Wild, Martha Raye and, in her sole feature role, Mama Cass Elliot (as Witch Hazel). Hayes even reprised the role in 1976 on the ABC Halloween star vehicle of her old friend Paul Lynde, appearing with The Wizard of Oz's Margaret Hamilton in a comedy sketch which revealed the sisterly bond between the two famous witches. The cancelation of HR Pufnstuf in 1970 led to yet another Krofft casting, this time in the dual role of Witchiepoo and the kindlier Weenie the Genie in the even more bonkers Lidsville (1971-72), with Charles Nelson Reilly taking the show's chief villain spot as the magician Horatio J Hoodoo. Hayes had a long and busy subsequent TV career in voice roles - The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, The Flintstones Comedy Show, Trollkins, The Real Ghostbusters, Rugrats, Transformers: Rescue Bots, among many others - and she appeared in a recurring role on the daytime soap General Hospital in the early 1980s as a street-wise international spy, Brighton O'Reilly. Off-screen, Hayes founded the Los Angeles-based animal rescue non-profit organisation Pet Hope, a cause she had championed since adopting a puppy abandoned in the basement of Broadway's St James Theatre during the run of Lil' Abner. Hayes is survived by her niece, Nancy Powers, nephews Tom Brosch, Louie Brosch and Guy Brosch and several great-nieces and nephews.
As a postscript to the previous, sad, item, this blogger has to report that he once risked arrest at Minneapolis International Airport. When, as he was about to catch a plane back to the UK following a visit in 2001, during a bag-check, the airport official discovered, in this blogger's suitcase, a carrier bag containing a video box-set. A video box-set of HR Pufnstuf to be exact, which this blogger has purchased for his (weird) fiend, Christopher. 'Err, that's not mine,' this blogger hurriedly told the official, only later reflecting that this was, he suspected, exactly the sort of thing the poor chap normally heard from recently captured heroin traffickers. Fortunately, perhaps, the official saw the funny side of the situation. Otherwise, it is perfectly possible that Keith Telly Topping would have been writing From The North for the past two decades from a cell in The Federal Joint whilst doing a thirty-to-life stretch (without the possibility of parole) for 'being a smartarse in the USA.' True story, dear blog reader. Still, it could've been worse, in less enlightened times one could get sent to The Chair for possession of anything related to Scooby Doo, Where Are You? Well know fact, that. 

Monday, May 03, 2021

"For We May Pity Thee, Not Pardon Thee"

In much the same way as the more entitled and mouthy Game Of Thrones fans appeared to believe that their own fan-fiction vision of how the series would end (written in crayon) was better than the one the professional producers and writers of the popular adult fantasy drama actually delivered (a view not shared by everyone, this blogger very much included), so series six of Line Of Duty, broadcast on Sunday evening, seems to have, shall we say 'divided opinion'? Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Wee Donkey, but some people got their shit in a right old twist over it. As this handy summation proves. Expect an online petition demanding the BBC go back and make it all over again but, this time, make Kate Fleming the puppet-mistress to be up and running very soon, dear blog reader. 
'Series six still reliably delivered the thrills, but with plot holes, agitprop and moments that came close to self-parody, Line of Duty is not quite what it was,' whinged one of the series' most regular supporters, that ginger lass from the Gruniad Morning Star. 'The sixth season of Jed Mercurio’s hit BBC1 drama came to an unexpectedly restrained end tonight,' added another Middle Class hippy Communist at the Independent. But, some people seemingly liked it, including the Daily Scum Mail ('Criminal 'mastermind made Inspector Clouseau look like Sherlock') and, even more curiously, That Awful Scowling Faceache Woman at the Torygraph: 'Jed Mercurio has done the impossible and tied up six series of loose ends, but this truly should be the end of AC-12.' Perhaps it was the fact that, seemingly, some bent filth got away with their institutional naughty crimes that was what the right-wingers admired so much. For what it's worth, this blogger thought Line Of Duty was great, as he has done since episode one of series one. The resolution might not have been the 'wham, bam, thank you H' ending that some whinging whingers had dreamed up in the darker corners of their damaged collective brain but it made perfect sense and left just enough wiggle room for further adventures if the BBC can persuade Mercurio to write some (news is still out on that score). And, it even managed to tie up most of the unanswered questions which the BBC News website had demanded (demanded, please note) answers to in the run up to the finale. The identity of 'H'? Check (although in their list of potential suspects they did not, it would appear, see that particular shoe being, as it were, buckled). The mystery of the Corbett money? Check. And, that was an entirely plausible moment demonstrating Ted Hastings basic humanity. Marcus Thurwell - alive and hiding in plain sight? Nope. And, by the way, huge congratulations to the BBC for managing to hire Jimmy Nesbitt for a cameo of ... a couple of blurry photographs. Steve's forever-delayed drugs test? Check. And, the long-speculated over 'Definately' [sic] guilty? Yes. And it did, indeed, turn out to be a major plot point in the finale and a key piece of evidence in catching H out in his bad, corrupt ways.
The series of Line Of Duty was watched by an average overnight audience of 12.8 million punters, a record for the show. The BBC said it was the largest overnight audience for an episode of any non-soap drama since modern records began in 2002. The finale commanded 56.2 per cent of the UK's TV audience, according to overnight figures. The five-minute peak audience was 13.1 million, between 21:45 and 21:50. The last time a TV drama got higher overnight viewing figures was an episode of ITV's long-running police drama Heartbeat in February 2001, which had an overnight audience of 13.2 million. It is the highest overnight figure for a BBC drama since the 2007 Doctor Who Cristmas episode Voyage Of The Damned which was watched by an initial live audience of 12.2 million. The seven day consolidated viewing figure for Line Of Duty will be available from early next week.

And so, as BBC drama-lovers - of whom this blogger is very much one - recover from the trauma of the ending (possibly for good) of one major part of their lives, trailers for three of your potential future fixes, have been released in the last week. The much-anticipated HMS Vigil ('from the makers of Line Of Duty, Bodyguard and The Pembrokeshire Murders,' and starring From The North favourites Suranne Jones and Martin Compston), Danny Boy (featuring the great Toby Jones) and The Pursuit Of Love (with Lily James, Dominic West and Andrew Scott). HMS Vigil will start, the BBC promises, 'later in the year.' How much later in the year, we just don't know yet. But, we will eventually. Good things come to those who wait. 
The one-off Gulf War aftermath drama Danny Boy, written by Robert Jones, directed by Sam Miller and also featuring Anthony Boyle, will go out on BBC2 on 12 May. It looks terrific.
And The Pursuit Of Love, an adaptation of Nancy Mitford's 1945 novel of extremely naughty behaviour amongst The Bright Young Things, takes Line Of Duty's Sunday night BBC1 slot from 9 May.
From The North favourite David Bradley has praised the original Doctor Who lead William Hartnell as he returns to the role of the First Doctor in the 'much anticipated' (it says here) live event Time Fracture. The actor played Hartnell in 2013's An Adventure In Space & Time, which explored the creation of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. Yer man Bradley made such a strong impression on fans that he was invited back by then-showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) to play the First Doctor in two episodes of Doctor Who, both of which were broadcast as part of Peter Capaldi's stint on the show - The Doctor Falls and Twice Upon A Time. And, a very good job he did, too - in fact, this blogger thought he was great. As he prepares to return to the role once more for Time Fracture, Bradley has lauded Hartnell's 'total dedication' to Doctor Who in an interview on the show's YouTube channel. 'He laid the template,' Bradley said of his predecessor. 'All of the other subsequent Doctors, they all owe a lot to William Hartnell. As it was, it started this phenomenon.' Bradley went on to reveal that he never expected to return to Doctor Who after his first appearance, which saw him play an entirely unrelated - villainous - character, Solomon in the 2012 episode Dinosaurs On A Spaceship with Matt Smith. He continued: 'When that finished, I thought "well that's my Doctor Who experience, you only do it once." Little did I know that Mark Gatiss had me in my mind for Adventure In Space & Time. It was a gift, I just said yes.' Bradley will co-star opposite yer actual John Barrowman in upcoming Time Fracture, billed as 'an immersive experience.' A curious pairing, on might observe. 'I could just see it taking off and being something special,' Bradley claimed. 'It may attract people who may not be Doctor Who fans, but if they are not Doctor Who fans when they go in, they certainly will be when they come out. I just think it's going to be quite an amazing experience.' 
Doctor Who could well have had a very different trajectory, following the news that the Eighth Doctor was almost played by a different actor. Almost, but not quite. Paul McGann played The Doctor in the 1996 TV movie - and, although the production itself wasn't really very good, yer man McGann was. Indeed, this blogger thought he was great. However, the role was reportedly first offered to Harry Van Gorkum. In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine, the actor recounted how his life very nearly changed overnight. Very nearly, but not quite. 'There are only two roles in the world where, if the phone goes and you've got it, overnight your life has changed,' he said. 'There's James Bond and Doctor Who.' His audition for the TV movie allegedly went well and as he recalled: 'An hour later the phone goes. My agent says, "Harry, I've got some news for you. You've got Doctor Who. Everyone loved you. Everyone said: "This is fantastic - we've found him." I couldn't believe it. I remember I fell to my knees in my trailer and kind of collapsed. I had a bit of an emotional moment. It was the turning point in my career. I thought, "My God, I'm going to play Doctor Who in America.' However, as Van Gorkum put it, 'then, the nightmare started.' Co-producers Universal and FOX had already signed off on his casting, but they had yet to convince the BBC about the unknown actor. 'Geoffrey Sax and Philip Segal said, "Now we've got to sell you to the BBC." I said, "What do you mean?" They said, "We called up the BBC and said, We've finally found Doctor Who." And Alan Yentob [the then controller of BBC1] said, "Who is it?" They said, "Harry Van Gorkum." And he said, "Harry who? Never heard of him!" So I had to put myself on tape for the BBC, so they could agree that I was the right person for it. I was ready to fly from England straight to Vancouver,' he claimed. 'Then around two days before Christmas I got a call from Philip Segal. He said, "This is the worst phone call I've had to make. This is going to happen a few times in your career, because you are very good but you haven't got the name behind you. You haven't had your big break yet."' The BBC instead opted for Paul McGann, who by then had already starred in The Monocled Mutineer, Catherine The Great, The Hanging Gale and the movie Withnail & I. 'So that was it. I was absolutely crushed. I flew back to America and not to Vancouver,' Van Gorkum told Doctor Who Magazine. 'I'm not bitter about it at all,' he claimed. 'I was mortified at the time, but that's the career I've picked. You get close to parts. Until you get that big break, until you get on that A-List, it doesn't matter how good you are, it's a case of "Do the people want to come and see you or not?"' Van Gorkum's subsequent career has included appearances in series like Friends, 24, NCIS and Will & Grace and the movies Gone In Sixty Seconds, Batman & Robin and The Last Legion.
Noel Clarke has said that he is 'deeply sorry' for some of his actions and will 'seek professional help,' but he has again 'vehemently' denied serious sexual misconduct allegations made against him. His statement came after twenty women had reportedly accused him of harassment, bullying and other assorted malarkey. ITV and Sky have both dropped shows which Clarke was involved in. He said: 'I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing. Recent reports however have made it clear to me that some of my actions have affected people in ways I did not intend or realise.' He added: 'To those individuals, I am deeply sorry. I will be seeking professional help to educate myself and change for the better.' The statement follows ITV's decision not to broadcast the final episode of the police drama Viewpoint, featuring Clarke, on Friday. Which, with horribly unfortunate timing, the Lad Bible website and 'some people on Twitter' had been busy slurping up as the finest thing since sliced bread just a day or two earlier. Clarke's Viewpoint co-stars Bronagh Waugh and Alexandra Roach tweeted their support for the women who made the allegations.
Sky has also halted its work with Clarke, including on the fourth series of the crime drama Bulletproof which was, currently, in pre-production. And, Clarke has been extremely suspended by BAFTA, almost three weeks after the British film and television academy gave him an award for his 'outstanding contribution' to the industry. Clarke is best known for playing Wyman in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Mickey in Doctor Who from 2005 to 2010 and for his acclaimed film trilogy Kidulthood, Adulthood and Brotherhood. He is also a writer, director and producer. He played a surveillance detective in Viewpoint, which had been strip-scheduled across the week on ITV. The penultimate episode was watched by 3.5 million overnight viewers on Thursday. But on Friday, the broadcaster said it was 'no longer appropriate to broadcast the final episode as planned' in light of the emerging allegations. The finale was available on the streaming service ITV Hub from Friday night until Sunday 'for any viewers who wish to seek it out and watch its conclusion.' Few bothered in light of the emerging allegations. Clarke had previously starred in three series of Sky's Bulletproof, which had a fourth commissioned in January. The broadcaster said on Friday: 'Effective immediately, we have halted Noel Clarke's involvement in any future Sky productions.' If you're looking for a dictionary definition of '... and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out,' dear blog reader, that statement comes pretty close to the top of any potential Google list. BAFTA has been criticised by some - most notably the Gruniad Morning Star who really threw BAFTA under the bus - for honouring Clarke on 10 April. It had, it is claimed, received reports of - anonymous - allegations made against Clarke in the twelve days between announcing him as an award recipient and the ceremony itself. According to the Gruniad Morning Star BAFTA's chairman Krishnendu Majumdar said he had heard that as many as twelve women 'could' be making allegations. In a letter to members in which it defended its response, BAFTA said that the e-mails it received 'were either anonymous or second or third-hand accounts via intermediaries. No first-hand allegations were sent to us,' it added. 'No names, times, dates, productions or other details were ever provided. Had the victims gone on record as they have with the Guardian, the award would have been suspended immediately. Noel Clarke's counsel received a legal notice to this effect. It was always very clear what our intentions would be.' BAFTA added that it was 'an arts charity' which 'is not in a position to properly investigate such matters.' The Charity Commission said BAFTA had 'submitted a serious incident report,' which the regulator is now assessing. Paul Fleming, general secretary of arts union Equity, said it had been 'a difficult day for those who run the industry. It's a phenomenally embarrassing and traumatic twenty four hours if you're a gatekeeper and in charge of what goes on in our members' workplace,' he told Radio 4's PM. 'It really does take something to be here, [the] best part of four years on from Me Too and still be asking these questions. And, for big bosses, big producers to have not put in place the polices practises and cultures in workplaces that allow these things to be considered credible. This is a really, really damning indictment of how intimidating some workplaces and some producers are for our members to raise concerns.' Police have confirmed they have received a third party report relating to allegations of sexual offences by a man, following recent claims against Clarke. A third party report is anonymous so the allegation cannot be investigated by the police. However, it can be used as intelligence, for example to see if it matches with other reports against the same person.
Meanwhile, a video of Clarke on-stage at a Doctor Who convention, in which he accused John Barrowman of inappropriate behaviour, has 'surfaced online' according to the Independent. Clarke was, as previously noted, the subject of a Gruniad Morning Star investigation in which 'twenty women came forward with accusations of sexual harassment, unwanted touching, groping, sexually inappropriate behaviour, bullying and unprofessional misconduct' between 2004 and 2019. 'Following the report, people have been sharing old articles about Clarke as well as videos of the actor from interviews and press conferences,' the newspaper notes. 'One such clip gained traction on Twitter due to comments made by Clarke about the alleged behaviour of his co-star, John Barrowman, on the set of Doctor Who.' The video shows Clarke on the panel of Chicago TARDIS alongside former co-stars Camille Coduri and Annette Badland in 2015. During the panel, they appear to be discussing their time working on the episode Boom Town, which was filmed in February 2005 and broadcast in June that year. (Before anyone else points this out, Coduri did not, actually, appear in Boom Town although she was a semi-regular on that series of Doctor Who and featured in several episodes with Clarke and Barrowman, notably Bad Wolf and The Parting Of The Ways.) Clarke, who has been accused of - amongst other things - sending unsolicited nude photos to women, reflected upon his time filming the episode, saying: 'Barrowman is there, taking his dick out every five minutes.' Using his microphone, he then proceeded to imitate Barrowman allegedly tapping his penis on both Coduri and Badland, who were seated next to him. He talked about the alleged incidents for more than two minutes. At one stage, Clarke asked Coduri: 'Do you remember that time he put it on your shoulder in the make-up truck?' to which she responded: 'Yes, I do.' As the crowd laughed, Clarke stood and recreated this alleged, moment, using his microphone. Coduri then stated: 'I didn't want to say. I was being really polite.' Clarke added: 'For the record [to] any men out there, do not try that at work. You will be fired and possibly go to jail.' Well, indeed. When the moderator asked how Barrowman was able to 'get away' with such (alleged) behaviour, the trio are shown jumping to his defence by calling him 'adorable,' 'light-hearted' and 'non-threatening.' Clarke then said that he believed Barrowman's on-set actions evaded a backlash 'because he's a gay man.' This blogger did, briefly, consider editorialising this story at this point but, frankly, he's not touching John Barrowman's (alleged) penis with an (alleged) bargepole. Anyway, 'many viewers of the video are pointing out the possible hypocrisy in the wake of the recent allegations against Clarke, which were made by several women who have worked with him behind-the-scenes as well as in front of the camera,' the Indi states. Barrowman has previous been accused of indecently exposing himself, in a 2008 incident which led to him issuing a grovelling apology. During a interview with Nick Grimshaw and Annie Mac, Barrowman undid his trousers after being goaded into it by the Radio 1 presenters. The BBC also issued an official apology. Though only one complaint was received about the incident, a BBC spokeswoman said the show had 'overstepped the mark.'
Now, dear blog reader, here's a John Barrowman story which does not involve any part of his groinal area. Well, not directly, anyway. Barrowman has said that returning to the role of Captain Jack Harkness is always a 'no-brainer,' just days after a leaked book synopsis hinted he could appear in the next Doctor Who series. The actor recently joined the cast of Time Fracture, the 'immersive theatrical experience' taking place this summer, which follows UNIT as they attempt to close a rift in space and time in the 1940s. In the run-up to the event, Barrowman was interviewed and was asked what keeps him coming back to Cap'n Jack. 'I never thought as a young boy, when I watched Doctor Who in Glasgow on the sofa on a Saturday evening, that I would ever be part of the TARDIS team,' he said. 'And, then when I got the opportunity by Russell Davies, he rang me up, I went to the audition and lo and behold they called me twenty minutes after and said: "You're Captain Jack Harkness."' Barrowman continued: 'Captain Jack changed my life. It was also a character who changed the face of television because we'd never seen anybody like him before, who was unapologetic about who he was and who he loved. It literally was groundbreaking. So, for me, Jack has not only been life-changing but Jack has opened up other doors for me. So that's why, at the drop of a hat, if someone says to me: "We want you to come back and play Jack." Absolutely. It's a no-brainer.' After an extended absence from the show, Barrowman returned in Doctor Who in 2019 and, most recently appeared in this January's episode Revolution Of The Daleks. This blogger thought he was great. Rumours are, apparently, now circulating that he could be due for another reprisal of the role in series thirteen, which is currently filming, following a leaked synopsis for an upcoming Doctor Who graphic novel featuring the character of Captain Jack. The blurb claimed that this story 'ties in directly' with the second episode of series thirteen, but the BBC has declined to comment on the matter when contacted by the Radio Times.
This blogger - and he means this most sincerely - wishes to apologise to all blog readers for including the words 'John Barrowman's penis' and 'leaks' in the previous paragraph. Moving on - swiftly - to another former Doctor Who companion, Blankety Blank is set to return to BBC1 with a new Saturday night series, hosted by That There Bradley Walsh. Because, seemingly, no one working in television these days has any original ideas. The return of the popular TV game show follows the success of a festive special with Walsh last Christmas. The programme sees celebrities help contestants to fill in the missing words of a sentence, often 'with humorous consequences.' Though, sometimes, not. It ran from 1979 to 1990 and was presented firstly by the late Sir Terry Wogan and then the late Les Dawson. A - very poorly received - revival was fronted by Paul O'Grady's Lily Savage in the late 1990s. It was shit. David Walliams also appeared as the host of a one-off Christmas Special for ITV in 2016. That was also shit. 'I struggle to remember the last time I laughed as much as when I was filming Blankety Blank,' said Walsh in a statement. 'So when they asked if I'd be up for doing a series, I jumped at the chance, I'm just so pleased I get to be a part of it. I stand on the shoulders of giants like Les Dawson and Sir Terry Wogan but I'm hoping to put my own stamp on the fantastically nostalgic show.' Blankety Blank was based on US show Match Game - which has also more recently inspired Snatch Game, a challenge on RuPaul's Drag Race. Kate Phillips, director of entertainment at the BBC, added: 'Blankety Blank has it all - ridiculous questions, unpredictable celebrities, bizarre prizes and, in Bradley a very funny and much loved host. I can't wait for everyone to watch and start filling in those blanks!' By which, of course, she meant 'no one in television these days has any original ideas.' After injury put paid to the former Brentford player's budding football career in the early 1980s, Bradley moved into stand-up comedy. He was later acquired by ITV to present the game show Midas Touch and then replaced Nicky Campbell on Wheel Of Fortune from 1997. An appearance on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank followed, before he focused his attentions on acting - enjoying serious drama roles in Coronation Street, Law & Order: UK and Doctor Who amongst others in the decades that followed. As well as donning his football boots again, regularly, at Soccer Aid - including going up against the late Argentina legend Diego Maradona - he also appeared as the England assistant coach in the 2001 (alleged) comedy movie Mike Bassett. The all-round entertainer has appeared on-stage in theatre productions and pantomimes too and enjoyed two top twenty hit CDs as a singer of swing classics. And Walsh and his son, Barney, have appeared in several TV travelogue shows together, including the recent Bradley & Barney: Breaking Dad - which saw the pair travelling around Europe. But the sixty-year-old remains best known to many as the presenter of another game show, ITV's popular The Chase. Earlier this week he was was nominated by the BAFTA TV Awards for best entertainment performance, for the first time in twelve years as that show's host.
The Game Of Thrones prequel series House Of The Dragon is reported to have started filming in Cornwall. Producer HBO confirmed last week that production was under way with tweets of members of the cast reading scripts. Photos then emerged of film crews and costumed actors, thought to be yer actual Matt Smith and Emma D'Arcy, at Holywell Bay near Newquay. The new series is set three hundred years before the events of Game Of Thrones and will tell the story of the Targaryen family. It is scheduled for release in 2022 on the HBO Max streaming service in the US. The network marked the start of production by sharing photos from the socially-distanced table read. They featured the cast, including Paddy Considine, going over the script while seated at separate tables to ensure coronavirus social distancing. Smudger is to play Prince Daemon Targaryen. Last week, film crews and medieval-style sets believed to be part of the production were spotted at St Michael's Mount, near Penzance. From The North favourite Game Of Thrones was a pop culture phenomenon during its eight-series run from 2011 to 2019, which was filmed mainly in Northern Ireland. House Of The Dragon is one of several Game Of Thrones-related TV projects HBO reportedly has in the works, while a stage show for London's West End is also in production.
Jon Snow (no, the other one), one of the UK's longest-serving TV news presenters, has announced he is to leave Channel Four News after thirty two years. Which will, of course, be terrible news for Middle Class hippy Communists everywhere (but, particularly, at the Gruniad Morning Star). The seventy three-year-old, who has been the programme's main anchor since 1989, said it was 'time to move on' after 'three incredible decades.' He said that he was 'looking forward to new adventures and new challenges.' Snow will now 'front longer-form projects and represent the channel in other matters,' Channel Four said. In a statement, Snow added: 'I am excited by the many things I want to accomplish but I have to say I have enjoyed every minute of my time with the programme. It has brought me adventure, as well as sorrow in some of the stories that I have had to report and also joy in reporting others, but above all, it has brought me community in working with the most fantastic group of people who are bound in intellect, humour and understanding. Together, we have forged a wonderful service. I feel proud to have contributed to Channel Four News let alone to have anchored the programme for the last thirty two years.' Snow joined Channel Four News after serving as ITN's Washington correspondent and diplomatic editor in the 1980s. As well as being a fixture in the nightly programme's London studio, the job has taken him around the world to report on stories including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama's inauguration. Channel Four News editor Ben de Pear described Snow as 'a wonderful man' who has been 'the driving force behind Channel Four News for the last thirty years. His fearless journalism, inherent compassion, a nose for a good story as well as sympathy for the underdog have been powered by relentless energy, charm and a mischievous sense of fun,' he said. Snow will now 'focus on his charities and some of his many passions in life, people's stories, inequality, Africa, Iran and the arts,' according to Channel Four.
Ronan Keating and Jermaine Jenas have been given permanent spots on The ONE Show sofa, officially being named Alex Jones's co-hosts on the BBC magazine programme. Boyzone singer Keating and ex-footballer Jenas have been among the stand-in hosts since Matt Baker left a year ago. From 10 May, they will be at her side for part of the week each - Jenas from Mondays to Wednesdays and Keating on Thursdays and Fridays. Others like Alex Scott and Amol Rajan will also still fill in when required. The BBC said they and other members of the programme's 'extended family of presenters' would 'continue to co-host episodes across the year.' Last month, Jones revealed that she is expecting her third child. The BBC said 'no decision has been made on the cover for her maternity leave.' Jenas, a former midfielder with Nottingham forest, this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and England who, following his retirement turned into an - actually rather decent - Match Of The Day and 5Live pundit, said that he was 'really looking forward to joining as a full time host alongside Ronan.' Jenas is one of a growing number of sports stars who have made the move into hosting TV entertainment shows in recent years. Some with far more success than others. 
Game Of Thrones actress Esmé Bianco has sued the singer Marilyn Manson, alleging sexual assault and battery. The lawsuit claims Manson coerced the actress with 'drugs, force and threats of force.' The plaintiff also alleges the singer and his manager broke trafficking laws by luring her from London to the US with 'empty promises of work.' The artist has rejected multiple allegations of abuse against him as 'horrible distortions of reality.' He has been dropped by his record label and booking agent since the claims surfaced. In February, Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood publicly accused Manson of domestic abuse. More than a dozen other women have since come forward with similar allegations. In an Instagram post on 1 February, Manson wrote: 'Obviously, my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality. My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners.' Bianco, who played Ros on the HBO drama, was among a handful of women who spoke out against Manson earlier this year. Her court filing on Friday marks the first legal action over such allegations against Manson, who is referred to in the lawsuit by his real name, Brian Warner. Bianco says that she met the singer in 2005. The lawsuit says that in February 2009, he invited her to Los Angeles to 'film a music video.' But when Bianco arrived she says that she found she was expected to stay at his home and there was no film crew. The plaintiff alleges she was deprived of food and sleep and given drugs and alcohol during her four-day stay. 'Perhaps most horrifyingly,' the lawsuit continues, Warner 'locked Ms Bianco in the bedroom, tied her to a prayer kneeler and beat her with a whip that Mister Warner said was utilised by the Nazis. He also electrocuted her.' The legal action says they began a consensual sexual relationship in May 2009 and maintained a long-distance relationship until 2011. In her complaint, Bianco claims Manson coerced her into sexual intercourse that was often violent and degrading, sometimes even when she was unconscious or otherwise unable to consent. The plaintiff alleges Manson committed multiple acts of sexual battery against her in 2011 and raped her in May of that year. The suit also accuses Tony Ciulla, who managed Manson for more than twenty five years before dropping him this February, of 'supporting [Manson's] violent tendencies' and allegedly violating US human trafficking laws. It alleges the duo coaxed Bianco to the US with 'job opportunities that never materialised,' made her perform 'unpaid labour' on several occasions and 'interfered with her visa process. Warner implied that because he had brought Ms Bianco to the United States and provided housing, she owed him labour and sexual intimacy,' notes the lawsuit. It adds: 'My hope is that by raising [my voice], I will help to stop Brian Warner from shattering any more lives and empower other victims to seek their own small measure of justice.'
A man has been ordered to pay twelve million dollars for his role in setting a Minneapolis police station on fire during rioting last May. The fine for Dylan Shakespeare Robinson who pleaded extremely guilty to an arson charge in December, will follow a four year prison sentence. According to the US Attorney's office, which prosecuted the case, the restitution will be collected 'in a variety of ways,' including wages, bank accounts, retirement garnishments and a monthly pay plan typically set by a judge. If, for example, he pays it off at fifty dollars a week, it should only take Robinson around four thousand six hundred years to fully settle his debts. Three other men who also pleaded guilty will be sentenced at a later date. According to prosecutors, Robinson lit a Molotov cocktail which another person then threw at the Minneapolis Third Precinct headquarters - setting the building ablaze. Surveillance video at the precinct shows Robinson lighting an 'incendiary device' held by another person and later setting a fire inside the station near a first floor stairwell, officials said. Robinson 'chose to depart from lawful protest and instead engaged in violence and destruction,' said acting US Attorney Anders Folk in a statement. The arson 'put lives at risk and contributed to widespread lawlessness in Minneapolis.' Robinson pleaded very guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson. Three other men - Bryce Michael Williams, Davon De-Andre Turner and Branden Michael Wolfe - pleaded guilty to the same charge as part of a plea agreement. They have yet to be sentenced. Robinson's lawyer, who is representing all four men, said that Robinson had been 'unfairly singled out' among thousands of others involved in the riots last year.
Five people have been extremely arrested over the violent theft of two French bulldogs belonging to Lady Gaga. In February attackers shot dog walker Ryan Fischer in the chest and took Lady Gaga's dogs, Koji and Gustav. Though whether Lady Gaga was more bothered about the dogs or the bloke who got shot is unknown. Fischer had to have part of his lung removed but survived the attack and has since left the hospital. On Thursday Los Angeles police announced they had charged three suspects for the incident itself as well as two others as accomplices. James Jackson, Jaylin White and Lafayette Whaley have been busted and charged with attempted murder and robbery. Officers also charged Harold White - Jaylin White's father - and Jennifer McBride, with accessory to attempted murder. McBride returned the dogs to the police two days after the theft, after Lady Gaga had offered a five hundred thousand dollar reward for their return. Which presumably means that the half-a-million bucks will not be leaving Lady Gaga's bank account. 'Detectives were able to establish McBride had a relationship [with] Harold White,' a Los Angeles police press release said. All four men charged were 'documented gang members,' the release added, without giving details. Police said that they did not think the attackers were aware Fischer worked for Lady Gaga when they attacked him. But, evidence suggested they knew 'the great value of the breed of dogs,' which was 'the motivation for the robbery.' Fischer was walking the three dogs in a residential area of Hollywood at night when the attackers pulled up in a car. He was shot in the chest with a semi-automatic handgun and two of the dogs were taken. Another of Lady Gaga's bulldogs, Asia, was unharmed in the incident. Fischer was not so lucky. He later described Asia as his 'guardian angel' who gave him the determination to survive. 'My panicked screams calmed as I looked at her, even though it registered that the blood pooling around her tiny body was my own,' he wrote on Instagram in March.
A US judge has extremely refused to dismiss Amazon's allegations that political interference cost the company a ten billion dollars Pentagon contract. The ten-year JEDI contract is aimed at making the US defence department more technologically agile. Amazon had been considered the favourite to win. However, the contract was eventually awarded to Microsoft. The tech giant alleges now extremely former President Mister Rump's dislike of its founder, Jeff Bezos, influenced the final decision. The ruling on Wednesday means that Rump could be among those Amazon asks to appear in court as part of any future proceedings. 'The record of improper influence by former President Trump is disturbing and we are pleased the Court will review the remarkable impact it had on the JEDI contract award,' an Amazon spokesman said in a statement. 'AWS continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice and would provide the best value to the DOD and the American taxpayer.' However, a spokesman for Microsoft insisted that the new ruling 'changes little. Not once, but twice, professional procurement staff at the DoD chose Microsoft after a thorough review. Many other large and sophisticated customers make the same choice every week. We've continued for more than a year to do the internal work necessary to move forward on JEDI quickly and we continue to work with DoD, as we have for more than 40 years, on mission-critical initiatives.' Four companies had initially been in the running for the deal when the process was launched in 2017. IBM was eliminated, as was Oracle, which lodged an unsuccessful legal challenge alleging conflict of interest stemming from Amazon's hiring of two former defence department employees. Both were said to have been involved in the JEDI selection process.
Over one hundred days since the 6 January insurrection that saw a pro-Rump mob storm the US Capitol, prosecutors have their first guilty plea. Jon Schaffer, a member of the Oath Keepers militia group, pleaded very guilty to two charges - obstruction of an official proceeding and entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon. Schaffer, who is also a heavy metal guitarist in the band Iced Earth (who are really earache inducing if this is anything to go by - get yer hair cut, hippies), had originally faced six charges including using a chemical irritant designed for grizzly bears on police officers during clashes. He turned himself to FBI agents in Indiana two weeks following the riot after a photo of him inside the Capitol wearing a hat reading 'Oath Keepers Lifetime Member' appeared on the front pages of US newspapers. He is facing up to thirty years in The Joint and is expected to co-operate with investigators. In the hope of getting a nice cell with a view. Probably. The suspects in the Capitol insurrection are a varied group - with only one thing in common, they're all scum: they include an ousted West Virginia lawmaker, several police officers and a left-wing activist from Utah. Most of the rioters were allowed to leave the crime scene, forcing investigators to conduct a national manhunt for the pro-Trump crowd that stormed the halls of Congress. Investigators for the District of Columbia says they have identified over five hundred and forty suspects and have charged some four hundred people in connection with the Capitol siege thus far. The Department of Justice said more than four hundred and ten defendants have been arrested since the attack and the government wrote in a court filing that in addition to those who have already been charged, it expects to charge 'at least' one hundred more. More than twenty five defendants have been charged under a destruction of government property statute. During proceedings for three of those defendants, the government said their crimes amounted to 'terrorism' - an allegation that is not, itself, a charge but could influence prison sentences if they are found extremely guilty. Just weeks after the insurrection in January, FBI officials said they had already been inundated with one hundred and forty thousand videos and photos from members of the public snitching up those whom they believed to have been involved in the naughty insurrectionist malarkey. Officials say they are considering filing 'serious charges' of seditious activity against some individuals who were involved in the insurrection. According to federal criminal code, seditious conspiracy means 'an effort to conspire to overthrow the US government.' The punishment is severe: up to twenty years in The Slammer. The rioters facing federal charges hail from forty two out of the fifty US states and the District of Columbia, according to the George Washington University extremism tracker. Only a few came from pro-Rump strongholds. Most came from districts which voted for Joe Biden in the November presidential erection. In March, the FBI made its first arrest of a Rump appointee, former State Department aide Federico Guillermo Klein. He is accused of multiple naughty felonies related to the riot, including beating police with a stolen riot shield. He was still employed by the State Department as a staff assistant when he joined the mob. He is also a former Rump campaign employee accoring to US media reports. Five of those arrested were police officers. Nearly thirty were active-duty or retired members of the military. About ninety per cent of those arrested have been white, according to an analysis by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Most have been over the age of forty, surprising given that the average age for those involved in political violence around the world is late twenties to early thirties. The youngest-known alleged rioter is eighteen-year-old Bruno Joseph Cua, who prosecutors accused of assaulting an officer after he posted online, 'President Trump is calling us to FIGHT!' The oldest alleged insurrectionists were two seventy-year-olds: Bennie Parker, an alleged Oath Keeper and Lonnie Coffman, an Alabama man who authorities say brought a car full of weapons and explosives to Washington. Many of those arrested were employed, or even wealthy, including Doctor Simone Gold from Beverly Hills. She was among a group of doctors that last year spread misleading claims about the coronavirus, including that hydroxychloroquine - a drug touted relentlessly by now extremely former President Miser Rump - was an effective treatment. Jenna Ryan - a real estate broker from Dallas, Texas - garnered much attention on social media after she flew to DC by private jet to join the insurrection the Capitol. Federal cases are on-going across the country and could lead to significant and eye-wateringly long prison sentences for those involved. Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said in February: 'The scope and scale of this investigation in these cases are really unprecedented, not only in FBI history but probably [Department of Justice] history.' Dozens of suspects have requested public defenders leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for millions of dollars in defendants' legal bills. The cases have also flooded the Washington DC legal system, where semi-returned judges have been called upon to hear the influx of cases. At least one defendant has argued that their case should be heard out of Washington because they would be unable to get a fair trial there. At least seven of the key suspects have told investigators that they travelled to the Capitol after now extremely former President Mister Rump 'told them' to go in a speech that preceded the insurrection. The so-called Q Shaman (who lived with his mom) requested a pardon from now extremely former President Mister Rump before he left office, citing 'the peaceful and compliant fashion in which Mister Chansley comported himself' during the insurrection. He didn't get one, however. Riley June Williams, the woman accused of stealing a congressional laptop, was ordered to stay off the Internet after she allegedly attempted to delete her information and encouraged others to do the same. Laura Steele, a member of the Oath Keepers militia indicted for conspiracy, worked for the High Point Police Department in North Carolina for twelve years before she was terminated for conduct toward superior personnel, absence from duty and violating a communications policy, a spokesperson for High Point Police said. Authorities have connected at least fifty seven alleged conspiring insurgent rioters to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Per Centers, Texas Freedom Force and the conspiracy ideology QAnon.
After a one-week trial that featured testimony from a Capitol police officer and a staffer for Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Rump supporter was found very guilty of threatening to assault and murder members of US Congress in online statements he made before and after the 6 January Capitol insurrection. Brendan Hunt is scheduled to be sentenced on 22 June and faces a maximum of ten years in The Joint, the Justice Department said. Hunt's was believed to be the first criminal trial in a case connected to the Capitol insurrection, though he did not ctually participate in the siege in DC. He was charged, instead, for statements he made online. A video that prosecutors said he posted two days after events on the video-sharing site Bitchute was titled KILL YOUR SENATORS and urged viewers to return to the Capitol with guns to 'slaughter' members of Congress. Hunt was convicted for that eighty eight-second video, according to the jury verdict. The jury did not find that his other comments - a series of posts on social media websites between 6 December 2020 and 21 January 2021 - were illegal threats. In those posts, which prosecutors highlighted during the trial, Hunt said that he would not vote in 'another rigged' erection and advocated violence, including calls to murder Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Four astronauts have returned to Earth from the International Space Station, in what was NASA's first night-time landing in fifty three years. The crew - three NASA astronauts and one from Japan's space agency JAXA - spent almost six months in space. They flew back in SpaceX's Crew Dragon Resilience and splash-landed off Panama City, Florida. They were supposed to leave the ISS earlier, but their departure was delayed due to bad weather in Florida. NASA said that the crew were 'in good spirits' after successfully landing in the Gulf of Mexico. Speaking at a press conference after the landing, a SpaceX crew operations and resources engineer told the astronauts: 'Dragon, on behalf of NASA and SpaceX teams, we welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flier programme, you've earned sixty eight million miles on this voyage.' NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, commander of the Crew-1 mission, replied: 'It is good to be back on planet Earth. We'll take those miles. Are they transferable?' Confirming the safe landing on Sunday morning, NASA said that the crew were given medical checks before being flown from Pensacola to Houston. The last NASA crew to land back on Earth at night-time was Apollo-8 - the first manned mission to the moon, which returned on 27 December 1968. This latest mission was a collaboration between NASA and SpaceX, as part of the former's Commercial Crew programme. SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, has become NASA's favoured commercial space flight partner. There are still seven astronauts on the ISS, including a new crew of four people who arrived on a different SpaceX craft last week on a mission called Crew-2. As the capsule moved off, Hopkins said: 'Thanks for your hospitality. We'll see you back on Earth.' The astronauts - Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi - travelled into space last November on the first fully operational mission to the ISS by a vehicle made by SpaceX. Glover also made history with this mission, by becoming the first person of colour to hold a long-duration crew assignment on the ISS. Speaking at a remote press conference before the crew's return to Earth, he said: 'One thing that did really profoundly impact me was the very first time I got out of the seat after [the spacecraft] was safely in orbit, and I looked out the window and saw the earth from two hundred and fifty miles up. I will never forget that moment. It wasn't about the view. It was how the view made me feel.' In May 2020, two US astronauts made a test mission to the ISS and stayed until July. This mission, Demo-2, was SpaceX's first astronaut mission. That was also the first launch to the ISS from US soil since the end of the Space Shuttle programme in 2011. Since then, the US had relied the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to send astronauts to the space station. It was also the first crewed mission run by a private company and not NASA.
Respect is considerably due to From The North favourites 5Live's Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode for the best 'so bad, it's brilliant' movie-related joke this blogger has heard in positives ages as part of the latest episode of their Film Review podcast.
'I've just been to a Bill & Ted convention in Oslo.'
'Norway?'
'Yes way, dude ...'
And finally, dear blog reader, please do give a nice warm From The North welcome to the latest inhabitant of yer actual Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House. Shaun.