Saturday, May 21, 2022

Time Is The Wisest Counsellor Of All

Forthcoming Doctor Ncuti Gatwa has had, it is probably fair to say, a right rip-roaring rollercoaster of a week, being announced as The Doctor on Sunday before facing the world's media at the BAFTA Awards. The actor has, reportedly, been inundated with congratulations ever since the announcement. Ncuti, who admitted that he had to keep his casting a secret since winning the role in February, has also been receiving messages of support from former cast members of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, including Sylvester McCoy. Taking to Instagram, Ncuti made a short video thanking Sylv for his good wishes and extending his gratitude to everyone from the Doctor Who community who had been in touch to congratulate him. 'Sylvester McCoy, thank you so much for your beautiful message. It means the absolute world - especially coming from a fellow Scot! I am so looking forward to facing all of those foes, especially the last one you mentioned - and the support from you and all the other Doctors has filled me with the strength that I will be able to do that.' He added: 'Thank you so much for welcoming me into the family.' In a separate post, Ncuti thanked the current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker and another predecessor David Tennant, for their kindness on the evening of the BAFTAs. 'The Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker and Mister David Tennant for your beautiful words of support and encouragement on BAFTA day. I was absolutely cacking my pants and, honestly, speaking to you two was priceless.' Ncuti also extended his thanks to incoming showrunner Big Rusty Davies as well as the broader Doctor Who community. Including, one presumes, those members of fandom who aren't sick, bigoted racist scum. Which, thankfully, is most of them. 'The Doctor Who fam: Russell, all the producers and the wonderful fans have been so gracious and welcoming. I am stunned and speechless at the support.' Ncuti was also welcomed to the role by TARDIS predecessors Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi and, yet another Scot, former showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE).
Dear blog readers should be aware that the following From The North news segment may contain potential spoilers for the Sixtieth Anniversary episode of Doctor Who and should, therefore, be avoided if you're worried about such malarkey. If you're not, of course, then please read on ...
It had been rumoured for some considerable time, been the subject of much misinformation and hyperbole and had even been alluded to - a couple of times - on this very blog (here and here). Now, it has been confirmed that one of the most admired pairings in Doctor Who's history are currently filming scenes which are 'due to be broadcast in 2023 to coincide' with the BBC's popular, long-running family SF drama's 'Sixtieth Anniversary celebrations.' National heartthrob David Tennant and Catherine Tate are to return to the Doctor Who franchise, the BBC confirmed in a press release on Sunday. The Doctor and Donna Noble parted company when The Doctor had to wipe Donna's memory in order to save her life in The End Of Time (2010). He left her family with a warning: that if she ever remembered her time spent travelling in the TARDIS, she would die. Horribly. So, what could possibly bring The Doctor and Donna back together? Russell Davies commented: 'They're back! And it looks impossible - first, we announce a new Doctor and then an old Doctor, along with the wonderful Donna, what on Earth is happening?' Good question, Big Rusty. One deserving a good answer. Then, he provided one. Sort of: 'Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback. The only thing I can confirm is that it's going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime.' The return of Tennant for the Sixtieth Anniversary episode was always on the cards, of course, given David's previous participation in 2013's acclaimed The Day Of The Doctor episode. Cat's return is more of a surprise although, given her extremely popular partnership with David's Doctor, it's hardly an unwelcome one. This blogger expects that at least one more former Doctor may well be added to the cast of the special (indeed, rumours are already circulating concerning Matt Smith's possible participation). Tennant and Tate's 2008 series of Doctor Who was the most successful that the popular, long-running family SF drama had following its revival in 2005, with an average overnight audience of more than eight million viewers per episode and the series finale, Journey's End, watched by a consolidated audience of ten-and-a-half million punters. The thirteen-episode run also enjoyed a high degree of critical acclaim and was nominated for best drama series at that year's BAFTA Awards (it lost to Wallander). Since leaving Doctor Who, Tennant has appeared in numerous TV series including Good Omens, Around The World In Eighty Days, Staged, There She Goes and Broadchurch. You know all that, right? In 2021, he won a National Television Award for playing the serial killer Dennis Nilsen in Des. Cat has appeared in sitcoms like Big School and The Office and has continued performing her, extremely irritating, Nan character - most recently in the much-lambasted The Nan Movie released earlier this year to audience indifference and a resoundingly negative reception from critics. Not undeservedly, either. But, this blogger thought she was great in Doctor Who so, don't let that horrorshow put you off.
Dear blog readers should be extremely aware that the following From The North segment also contains potential spoilers for the Doctor Who Sixtieth Anniversary episode and should, therefore, be avoided if you're bothered about such discombobulations. If you're not, then please read on ...
It was subsequently revealed that National Icon Bernard Cribbins would also be returning in the role of Donna's grandfather, Wilf. And, that he would be joined by Jacqueline King as Donna's mum and Karl Collins as her husband (both, like Bernard, last seen in The End Of Time twelve years ago). 
But, What Are David Tennant & Catherine Tate Actually Filming? That was a question asked by both the Den Of Geek and Screen Rant websites. Both picked up on a couple of minor ambiguities in the BBC's press release announcing the return of David and Cat to the franchise which this blogger had also spotted but put down to mere clumsy sub-editing or the BBC's seeming reluctance to employ adults these days. Allow Den Of Geek to explain further: 'Note the wording: "[filming] scenes", "[to] coincide with", "celebrations" plural. Nowhere in the language does the press release explicitly confirm that Tennant and Tate will appear as guest stars in a single Sixtieth Anniversary episode alongside the new fourteenth Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa.' They add: 'When Doctor Who celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary, it wasn't only with feature-length special The Day Of The Doctor, but also with two mini-episodes The Night Of The Doctor and The Last Day, both of which were released in the run-up to the anniversary ... Could it be that the Tenth Doctor and Donna are back to film supplemental episodes, rather than appearing in a single special? The official comment from returning showrunner Russell T Davies further muddies the waters ... A missing story, a parallel world, a dream, a trick, or a flashback. Intriguing options all.' This blogger's opinion, for what it's worth, is that David, Cat and Bernie will, indeed, feature in the Sixtieth Anniversary episode rather than in something separate - ala The Night Of The Doctor which, of course, brought back, for eight minutes, Paul McGann's Doctor specifically so that he could regenerate into John Hurt. However, as Sci-Fi Bulletin's editor Paul Simpson noted, it is 'interesting' that the BBC appear to have gone out of their way to state that David and Catherine are returning to Doctor Who without specifying where. The probable reason for the timing of the announcement, on Sunday, was that within a day, locations photos of David, Cat and Bernie had appeared on Twitter and, thereafter, in the wider media. Filming was taking place in Camden - at a temporary coffee shop in the market outside clothing store Cyber Dog. Also spotted at the location was regular Doctor Who director Rachel Talalay although, reportedly, when asked whether she was involved in the production Rachel initially denied that she was. A couple of days later, however, Rachel came clean on the real reason for her being there!
Dear blog readers should be aware that the following From The North segment again contains potential spoilers related to the Doctor Who Sixtieth Anniversary episode. And should, therefore, be avoided if you're in the slightest bit bothered about such shenanigans. If you're not, then please read on ...
Still here? Good. Doctor Who has cast Heartstopper's Yasmin Finney for the popular, long-running family SF drama's Sixtieth Anniversary. The actress, who plays Elle Argent in Netflix's series, has now started filming scenes for next year's Doctor Who anniversary as a character named Rose. Any relation to any other character called Rose may be entirely coincidental. Or not as the case may be. (Rumours suggest - and, on-location reports appear to confirm - that the character is, in fact, Donna and Shaun's, daughter.) 'If anyone would have told eight-year-old Yasmin that one day she'd be part of this iconic show, I would have never in a million years believed them,' Yasmin said. 'This show has a place in so many people's hearts, so to be seen as a trans actress by the legend himself Russell, has not only made my year, it's made my life. I cannot wait to begin this journey and for you all to see how Rose blossoms. Get Ready.' Big Rusty himself has also hinted that this Rose will be just as pivotal to The Doctor's fate as Rose Tyler was seventeen years ago. 'Life on Doctor Who gets brighter and wilder, how can there be another Rose?' the writer asked, rhetorically. 'You'll find out in 2023, but it's an absolute joy to welcome Yasmin to the Doctor Who set. We all fell in love with her in Heartstopper, one of those shows which changes the world.'
Mandip Gill will soon be taking one final trip in the TARDIS with Jodie Whittaker before she departs the popular, long-running family SF drama series later this year. However, despite waving goodbye to the show, Mandip has made it clear that she's still excited to see the next chapter of Doctor Who with Ncuti Gatwa. Speaking to the Digital Spy website, Mandip shared her thoughts on Gatwa's casting and revealed how Russell Davies kept the news secret for so long. 'It's so exciting!' Mandip noted. '[Ncuti] wasn't one of the people that people were talking about.' The actress confessed that, before the casting news broke, Davies was taking 'special measures' to keep the new Doctor's identity secret. She observed that the incoming Doctor Who showrunner was keen to throw fans off the scent as they speculated about which actor would be taking the role. 'Russell T Davies himself actually said that he put out false rumours which I kind of find really funny,' she said. Further detailing her enthusiasm for Ncuti, Mandip added: 'He's a perfect person to be doing it. It was always about the best actor for the part. I've not seen much of his work, so that's quite exciting.' Praising Gatwa for his passion for Doctor Who, Mandip went on to say that she believes the actor is 'exactly what that show needs.' Having already filmed her final scenes for Doctor Who, Mandip has already moved on to a new project and is currently starring alongside Tom Felton in 2:22 A Ghost Story. The duo play husband and wife in the thriller which is running at London's Criterion Theatre. And is, according to all reports, really rather good.
From The North favourite Karen Gillan has married her American boyfriend, Nick Kocher, in a closely guarded ceremony at a castle in Argyll. Some of the A-list guests at the wedding in Castle Toward in Dunoon reportedly included Robert Downey Jnr and Julia Roberts. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE), who was executive producer of Doctor Who when Kazza was Matt Smith's TARDIS companion, was also a guest. Kazza, who had kept her engagement to the Saturday Night Live scriptwriter a secret, had chartered a yacht, The Spirit Of Fortitude, to take family and friends to the ceremony. One local snitched to the Daily Record like a filthy, stinkin' Copper's Nark: 'We had seen the yacht moored up but it was only when someone said Julia Roberts had been seen having breakfast in the Rock Cafe in Dunoon and Robert Downey Jr had been spotted going into a shop that we realised there was a celebrity wedding happening.' Inevitably, the Daily Scum Mail somehow managed to obtain a 'photo exclusive' of the happy event. Via one, rather blurry, photograph taken from a distance with a telephoto-lens and a twelve-year-old BBC publicity shot of Karen in a bridal dress from Amy and Rory's wedding in The Big Bang. One presumes that if and when Kazza finds herself with child, the Scum Mail will be heading straight to their photo archive and digging out an image from Amy's Choice.
Speaking of The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE), he has been talking to Radio Times about his new adaptation of The Time Travler's [sic] Wife, extracts of which can be read here. In this, Steven confirms that his acclaimed 2007 Doctor Who episode, The Girl In The Fireplace (a particular favourite of this blogger) was written soon after he read Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 novel about a reluctant time-traveller and his long-suffering wife. 'It's very similar in mood if not in detail,' Steven noted.
Nearly nine million people in the UK watched the Eurovision Song Contest on live BBC1 on Saturday, which saw the UK come second to eventual winners, Ukraine. Overnight figures were considerably higher than last year's event, when an average of 7.4 million watched in horror as the UK scored 'nul points'. Ah, happy memories. TV audience numbers for Saturday's Turin show peaked at 10.6 million, the BBC added. The Eurovision broadcast followed BBC1's coverage of the FA Cup Final, which drew an average overnight audience of nearly six million. Viewing numbers soared in the final half-hour of the match at Wembley - which saw The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws beat The Former Moscow Chelski FC six-five on penalties after extra time - peaking at eight million. There were also four million stream requests for the coverage across the BBC's various digital platforms. The live game was also shown on ITV where the audience averaged but 1.6 million. December's Strictly Come Dancing final averaged eleven million overnight viewers, while the Queen's Christmas message drew an audience of 8.96 million although that was across several different channels. High hopes accompanied this year's British entry to Eurovision. Sam Ryder was one of the favourites to win the competition with his song 'Space Man' - and it topped the jury vote on Saturday night, after two consecutive years of the UK coming dead last. But, a huge surge of public support in the popular vote propelled Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra to victory. Their winning song, 'Stefania', combined old Ukrainian folk melodies and traditional flute with bangin' rap and hip-hop beats. Which are, apparently, very popular with Young People, m'lud. An average of 8.9 million people tuned-in to watch the competition on the BBC - a fifty five per cent share of the available audience, the corporation said. Pro-Russian hackers attempted to disrupt voting for Eurovision, Italian police later confirmed. Police said that the Killnet hacker group targeted the first Semi-Final - in which Ukraine performed - as well as Saturday's final. But, they added, their cyber-security division blocked the attacks. Clearly, since Ukraine won.
From The North favourites Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo once had a rule on their BBC 5Live film review show than any movie which found itself advertised on a bus would, almost certainly, be rubbish. How ironic, therefore (as Mark himself noted on Twitter), that their move into the commercial sector, Kermode & Mayo's Take, now finds itself the subject of just such crass over-advertising. 'Is it time to rewrite the "if it's on the side of a bus ..." rule?' asked Mark, not unreasonably.
A movie recently reviewed on Kermode & Mayo's Take is a particular favourite of this blogger, Cabaret, back in cinemas for its Fiftieth Anniversary. Good God, dear blog reader, where have the last fifty years gone? Or, more accurately, the last thirty eight years, as this blogger first saw Cabaret, on video, in the early 1980s. Given that he was only eight when it first came out in 1972.
This blogger also highly recommends Mark's gushing review of Everything, Everywhere, All At Once which made this blogger want to hurry to his local multiplex and watch the movie at the earliest opportunity. Although, as previously noted, this blogger's local multiplex is, currently, closed due to 'safety concerns.' So, when said earliest opportunity will be is, presently, unknown.
Dear blog readers are also pointed in the direction of the Pop Screen podcast where you can check out this blogger's Modtastic mate Mick Snowden's review of 'the Plan Nine From Outer Space of musicals', Bob Hartford-Davies's so-bad-it's-brilliant Gonks Go Beat (1965). 'Following the attempts of an intergalactic mediator to reconcile the warring nations of Beatland and Balladisle, it has a roster of musical stars including Lulu, a pre-Cream Ginger Baker, The Nashville Teens, several other artists who are even more obscure than The Nashville Teens. And Charlie off Casualty.' It's groovesville, baby! When this blogger informed Mod Mick that his review was being linked-to by this blog, he replied: 'We can finally say "Pop Screen, as seen on From The North." It's better than a laurel from Cannes.'
Netflix has made about one hundred and fifty staff extremely redundant, a month after the streaming service said it was losing subscribers for the first time in a decade. The redundancies, announced by the entertainment giant on Tuesday, will mainly affect its US office in California. They account for about two per cent of its North American workforce. Netflix said the job losses were due to the slump in the company's revenue. The streaming service is battling an exodus of viewers this year. 'These changes are primarily driven by business needs rather than individual performance, which makes them especially tough as none of us want to say goodbye to such great colleagues,' the company said in a statement. It wasn't disclosed which parts of the business would see job losses, but the Los Angeles Times reported that recruiting, communications and also the content department were all affected.
Rare items from the late veteran BBC DJ and From The North favourite John Peel's collection - including a signed record from John Lennon and Yoko Ono - are to go under the hammer. John Peel was Radio 1's longest-serving original DJ until his sudden death in 2004 at the age of sixty five, and lived in Peel Acres near Stowmarket. His radio shows helped many music careers, including those of David Bowie, T-Rex, The Sex Pistols and The Smiths. His family said items had been carefully chosen for the 14 June sale. His widow and children said he had collected a 'wealth of souvenirs' through his close access to stars and events. 'In going through the accumulation of forty years of pop music moments, we decided that some of the most interesting items might find a home, with fans of his programme or of the artists whose music he played,' they said. 'We hope these items find the attention and appreciation that we're sure John/Dad would feel they warranted. We had no desire to split up his beloved record collection but have included in the sale a selection of particularly rare or unique records that do not take away from the integrity of his archive.' Objects from his collection, including records, personal correspondence and memorabilia, will be auctioned at Bonhams Knightsbridge in the week before Glastonbury's fiftieth anniversary. One item, with an estimate of between fifteen and twenty grand, is a mono pressing of Lennon and Ono's notoriously unlistenable 1968 LP Two Virgins. Other pieces include a signed Rolling Stones 1969 promo LP, estimated to go for six to eight thousand knicker, a The Queen Group LP that comes with a letter from Freddie Mercury, with an estimate of a thousand smackers and a Joy Division single and letter - estimated at four to six thousand quid. Katherine Schofield, of Bonhams, said: 'John Peel had an incredible impact on the new music landscape. Without his passionate advocacy of emerging talent, generations of music lovers may never have heard the sounds of The Fall, The Undertones, The Sex Pistols and countless others.'
The Television Heaven website has published a really terrific article on one of this blogger's favourite early-1980s shows, Andrew Davies' children's comedy, Educating Marmalade starring the late Charlotte Coleman. A minus point to the author Marc Saul, however, for managing get through several thousand - highly impressive - words on the ITV show without once mentioning the brilliant theme tune by Bad Manners. Which does, indeed, end up as 'a naughty escapade.'
Stargazers have been treated to a stunning and unusual sight - a super blood Moon. On Monday, Earth's orbit meant that for several minutes our planet was positioned directly between the Sun and the Moon. In that time the Moon fell completely into Earth's shadow - temporarily turning it a dusky shade of dark red. Its hue was created by sunlight being projected through Earth's atmosphere onto the Moon's shadowed surface. The lunar eclipse coincided with a separate event - a super Moon. This is when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit and, thus, appears larger than usual. In Europe, the phenomenon was only visible for some of that time because the Moon was beginning to set. But in the Americas, areas under clear skies were treated to the full spectacle.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, some - probable - good news, from NASA, via the always reliable Sunday Sport. This blogger believes that there are nowhere near enough uses of the term 'boffins' in media reports these days.
NASA's Perseverance rover has reached a big moment in its mission on Mars. Tuesday SAW the six-wheeled robot begin the climb up an ancient delta feature in the crater where it landed. It will roll uphill, stopping every so often to examine rocks that look to have the best chance of retaining evidence of past life on the planet. On its way back down, Perseverance will collect some of these rocks, placing the samples at the base of the delta to be retrieved by later missions. The goal is to bring this material back to Earth in the 2030s for detailed inspection. 'The delta in Jezero Crater is the main astrobiology target of Perseverance,' said deputy project scientist, Doctor Katie Stack Morgan. 'These are the rocks that we think likely have the highest potential for containing signs of ancient life and can also tell us about the climate of Mars and how this has evolved over time,' she told BBC News. The rover made its spectacular landing in the middle of Mars' forty five kilometre-wide Jezero Crater on 18 February last year. Since then it's been testing its tools and instruments, flying an experimental mini-helicopter and gathering a general impression of its surroundings. But the robot's chief purpose in going to the near-equatorial bowl on The Red Planet has always been to study the huge mound of sediments in the West of Jezero. Long suspected to be a delta, based on satellite imagery, Perseverance's initial observations on the ground have now confirmed this assessment. A delta is a structure built up from the silt and sand dumped by a river as it enters a wider body of water. The sudden deceleration that occurs in the river's flow allows anything carried in suspension to fall out. In Jezero's case, the wider body of water was very probably a crater-wide lake that existed billions of years ago. 'Rivers that flow into a delta will bring nutrients, which are helpful for life, obviously; and then the fine-grained sediment that is brought and laid down at a high rate in a delta is good for preservation,' explained mission scientist Professor Sanjeev Gupta from Imperial College London. 'Also, if there is life in the hinterland, this can get brought down the river and concentrated in a delta.' In recent days, Perseverance has manoeuvred itself to an 'on ramp' to the delta dubbed Hawksbill Gap. This is a gentle incline that will take the robot to an elevation of a few tens of metres above the crater floor.
The eruption of the Tonga volcano in January has been confirmed as 'the biggest explosion ever recorded in the atmosphere' by modern instrumentation. It was far bigger than any Twentieth Century volcanic event, or indeed any atom bomb test conducted post-World War II. The assessment comes in a pair of scholarly papers in the journal Science which have reviewed all the available data. Of recent history, it's likely that only the famous Krakatoa (West of Java) eruption of 1883 rivalled the atmospheric disturbance produced. That catastrophic event is believed to have claimed more than thirty thousand lives. Fortunately, the 15 January climactic eruption of the underwater volcano at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai in the South Pacific resulted in very few deaths, even though it also produced large tsunamis. 'Tonga was a truly global event, just as Krakatau was, but we've now got all these geophysical observation systems and they recorded something that was really unprecedented in the modern data,' Doctor Robin Matoza, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, told the BBC News website. He is the lead author on one of the papers. Scientists now have access to an extraordinary array of ground-based and spaceborne instruments, including atmospheric pressure sensors, seismometers, hydro-phones and a fleet of satellites that monitor the Earth across the entire light spectrum. The colossal Tonga explosion, which came at the end of of several weeks of activity at the seamount, produced several types of atmospheric pressure waves that propagated vast distances. In the audible range of frequencies, people ten thousand kilometres away in Alaska reported hearing repeated booms. The global network of detectors set up to monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty picked up the infrasound signal. Infrasound has frequencies that are just below what humans are capable of hearing. The network's data indicated the Tonga volcano blast produced an atmospheric pressure wave comparable with that from the biggest ever nuclear explosion - the Tsar bomb detonated by the Soviets in 1961 - but lasted four times longer. The papers discuss at length the perturbations driven by so called Lamb Waves, named after the early Twentieth Century mathematician Horace Lamb. These are energetic waves in the air that propagate at the speed of sound, along a path guided by the surface of the planet. They are also non-dispersive, in other words they maintain their shape as they move and so are conspicuous over a long time. The Lamb Wave pulses produced by the Tonga eruption were seen to circle the Earth at least four times. In the UK, which is some sixteen-and-a-half thousand kilometres from Tonga, these pulses began arriving on the evening of the 15th January, about fourteen hours after the climactic eruption on the other side of the planet. They lifted the clouds over the UK. 'At the time, we had a laser cloud-base recorder looking at the cloud base and as the wave went through the cloud was perturbed,' recalls Professor Giles Harrison, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Reading and co-author on one of the papers. 'If ever you wanted evidence that the atmosphere is a remarkably interconnected thing, this was it. And what happens on one side of the planet can propagate around to the other side at the speed of sound.' Where the Lamb Waves coupled with ocean waves, they were able to generate tsunami - not just in the Pacific Ocean, but in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean as well. Scientists are still investigating the generation of near-field tsunamis that ran up coastlines in the Tongan archipelago. Some were undoubtedly crafted by pressure waves from the volcano pushing down on the water surface, but investigations are on-going to determine whether collapse of part of the volcano also made a significant contribution.
Demolition work has begun in Newcastle city centre to make way for a new government complex. The Northern section of Pilgrim Street will be shut for seven weeks as work begins on the new site for nine thousand HMRC staff. The work includes bulldozing Commercial Union House which were built in 1971. Currently HMRC workers are based in Washington and Longbenton and these sites will close. The Stack shipping container village on the site of the old Pilgrim Street Odeon cinema - a place where this blogger spent a decent proportion of his teenage years - also closed earlier this month to make way for the development, which has been approved by Newcastle City Council. Nearby Bamburgh House will also be demolished, as will the interior of the Art Deco Carliol House. Until recently, the eight-storey Commercial Union House had been rented by the artists' collective Orbis. The new office development will wrap around Pilgrim Street, John Dobson Street, Market Street and New Bridge Street West. The nine-storey, Reuben Brothers-developed one hundred and fifty five million knicker site is due to be completed by 2027. It requires a final seal of approval from the government due to heritage concerns about losing much of the grade II listed Carliol House.
Weeks of overnight closures on The Tyne Bridge will be necessary in the run-up to a long-overdue restoration. Newcastle City Council said engineers needed to assess how bad its state of repair was before the government would sign off funding for the work. The council has bid for over forty one million snots to repair the historic structure and refurbish the Central Motorway. The authority said it had to 'assess its condition and the scale of works required to finalise the costings.' A spokesperson said: 'As we need to inspect the entire span of the bridge, overnight closures may be required on the bridge and roads underneath it, so engineers can complete this work safely.' The Tyne Bridge has had no major maintenance for two decades, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said. About seventy thousand vehicles cross it each day and it was feared it could be forced to close to all traffic apart from buses if essential maintenance was not carried out. It is hoped the work will be completed in time for its one hundredth birthday in 2028, although council chiefs have warned this is in doubt.
Three parachutists were seen jumping from the top of a huge Newcastle tower block, much to the shock of passers-bys. Shocked - and stunned - so they were. Now the unofficial jump from the second tallest building in Newcastle is being extremely investigated by Plod. Northumbria Police received reports at on Monday evening, that three unknown males had leaped from the top of Vale House in Jesmond, before pulling parachutes and gliding down into the car park below. After making the two hundred and sixty two foot base jump, it is said that the three then legged it before they could be pinched by The Rozzers for their naughty high-flying behaviour. A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: 'At around 9.40pm yesterday [Monday], police received a report of a disturbance at Vale House on Lansdowne Gardens in Jesmond. It was reported that three unknown males parachuted off the roof of the building and landed in a nearby car park before leaving the area on foot. Enquiries are ongoing to establish if any criminal offences have taken place. It is not believed that anyone was injured.' Some members of the public witnessed the jump including one who was sat in the beer garden of the nearby Blue Bell pub. Snitching to the Evening Chronicle, he said: 'I heard a crack - as the parachutes make a really loud noise when pulled - and then I saw someone floating down from the building. I thought it was an action man figure with a parachute at first, but then I realised it was people base jumping after the second one came down.'
A government consultation on how to tackle the nation's Vitamin D deficiency problem ends on Sunday. Just in time for this blogger, frankly, who has recently discovered that, his very self - in addition to Vitamin B-12 and folate acid - he is somewhat deficient in Vitamin D. One idea being floated is getting people to eat biofortified foods, such as mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light. Although, given the amount of mushroom omelettes which this blogger has been eating of late - an average of at least one a day, sometimes more - that, surely, can't be the whole answer. More than one-in-ten adults in the UK is thought to be lacking in the sunshine vitamin, which is needed to keep muscles and bones healthy. And this blogger, it would seem, is - as UB40 once noted - a one-in-ten. Too much vitamin D can be bad for you, though - a build-up of it can cause an excess of calcium in the body. This blogger did, indeed, check with the very excellent Doctor Nasir when he recently prescribed some Vitamin D supplements for this blogger, whether it was possible to, you know, 'overdose' on Vitamin D. He was told that it is, indeed, possible to do exactly that. But, you have to take loads - and, eat lots of fish, eggs, mushrooms and red meat into the bargain. This is, apparently, why there is a debate about which is the best way to improve the nation's Vitamin D intake, since some people already get plenty. It also doesn't help that we don't get as much sunshine in this country as they do in, say, Mediterranean countries where Vitamin D deficiency is much rarer (though not entirely unknown). The England-only consultation, led by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities and the Department of Health and Social Care has asked for individuals or businesses to contribute with suggestions. The next step will involve a national campaign to improve the vitamin status of the population. There could also be legislation passed to allow food producers to put more Vitamin D in foods which don't naturally contain it, in a process known as 'fortification', as well as growing produce and breeding meat to be more Vitamin D-rich through biofortification. Margarines used to have to be fortified, by law, but the government dropped that requirement in 2013 to reduce the amount of regulations dairy farmers needed to follow. Some people (Gruniad Morning Star readers, mainly) are 'concerned' that if many foods were fortified with various vitamins and nutrients, we might end up consuming too many. However, Doctor Stacey Lockyer, from the British Nutrition Foundation, says this is 'unlikely.' And, if both Doctor Stacey and Doctor Nasir reckon it's okay for this blogger to take Vitamin D pills, then sod all the vegan quiche-eating Gruniad Morning Star readers, he'll be taking them. 'The safe upper limit for a nutrient, set by health authorities to help ensure that total intakes do not pose risks for public health, would always be carefully considered before the implementation of a food fortification policy,' Doctor Stacey, a nutrition scientist, told the BBC. 'Studies conducted across Europe - under The Odin Project - have looked at the inclusion of Vitamin D-fortified foods, either singularly, but also in combination, and have concluded that diverse fortification strategies carry little risk of exceeding the safe upper limit for Vitamin D and thus could safely increase population intakes.' People can get some Vitamin D from their diet, but also make it in their skin when it is exposed to the sun. There is no exact figure for how much time should be spent in the sun, but the charity Cancer Research says people should always be 'careful' about skin cancer risk. For a while now, the government has recommended everyone should consider taking daily vitamin D supplements during the autumn and winter to top up their levels. Some people are more likely to be deficient - people who don't get outdoors much or who cover their skin, as well as people with naturally darker skin. Or, people like this blogger, with anaemia. During the pandemic, more than nine hundred thousand Vitamin D supplements were given to people who were clinically extremely vulnerable and those in care homes to help avoid more deficiencies. These supplements were discontinued in February 2021, which clinicians from the Royal Osteoporosis Society say is 'concerning', because it could lead to more people developing osteoporosis. 'Elderly people in particular face a perfect storm if Vitamin D supplements are not made readily available, as do vulnerable individuals who cannot get out for UV exposure over a UK summer,' they said and, added, 'targeting these groups is helpful but doesn't address the magnitude of the problem that exists from cradle to grave.' And, as an 'elderly' person, this blogger totally agrees with them. At present, only eligible pregnant women, new mothers and children under four can get free supplements, which contain folic acid, Vitamin C and D as part of the Healthy Start scheme. This blogger's only getting them because he was specifically prescribed them by his doctor after the deficiency was highlighted in one of the blood tests this blogger had during his last out-patient hospital appointment in March. Supplements can be purchased from most supermarkets and pharmacies, with a three-month supply costing under three knicker. You should be able to get the right amount of Vitamin D just by going out in the sun between March and September in the UK. But during the winter months, the Sun will not be enough. Foods that naturally contain Vitamin D include oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, egg yolks and mushrooms. Some products, like breakfast cereals, are fortified with Vitamin D. Researchers are also exploring biofortification - for example, rearing animals to produce Vitamin-D rich beef, pork, chicken and eggs. There are two important forms of Vitamin D - D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) - the latter is what this blogger is deficient in, apparently. D2 generally comes from plants, such as mushrooms, while D3 comes from animal sources, such as eggs and fish, as well as our skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Most Vitamin D supplements contain Vitamin D3, which is typically produced from a wax called lanolin, extracted from sheep's wool and may not be suitable for vegans or those who do not consume dairy. Doctor Stacey says that, nevertheless, you can still get the vitamins you need when you're vegan or vegetarian. 'Eggs are a useful source of Vitamin D for vegetarians who eat them,' she told the BBC. 'Other food sources of Vitamin D that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans are foods fortified with Vitamin D such as some plant oil-based polyunsaturated fat spreads, some plant-based dairy alternatives - choose unsweetened versions - and some breakfast cereals - where fortified with a form of Vitamin D suitable for vegans.' Or, you could just have a nice, thick, greasy bacon sarnie, smothered with thick Lurpack. That should sort out the lack of Vitamin D.
So, dear blog reader, with a horrible inevitability we come to that regular part of From The North dedicated to this blogger's on-going medical issues. For those who haven't been following this on-going saga which seems to have been on-going longer than Doctor Who: This blogger spent several weeks feeling rotten; he had a week in hospital; he was discharged; he received some B12 injections; he had more injections; he, eventually, recovered his previously missing appetite; he got a diagnosis; he had a meeting with his consultant; he continued to suffer from fatigue and insomnia; he endured a second endoscopy; he had another consultation with his doctor; then he got toothache and had an extraction. This week ... not much additional to report, as it happens. Apart from the addition Vitamin D to the - expanding - list of things he's deficient in, obviously. His jaw took several days to stop hurting after having his troublesome molar gouged out. And, he continues to have the regular irritation of being really tired during the day after nights of insomnia and disturbed sleep. But, all-in-all, he's had far worse weeks. He even managed to leave the safety of The Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House and get the bus to Morrisons on Tuesday for a - much deserved - breakfast. 
Mind you, dear blog reader, the sun was out in force of Wednesday, seeming to mock this blogger's Vitamin D issues like a big, yellow, shiny, mocking thing. Here's The Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House (a visual representation). It was too darned hot, dear blog reader. And the drums never cease ...
This blogger's latest US preview disc rocked up at The Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House midweek. Strange New Worlds: Ghosts Of Illyria, the first Number One-centric episode, essentially, this is a remake of The Naked Time (interestingly, at almost exactly the same point in Strange New World's development as The Next Generation did the same thing). The worst - or, let's be kind and say, least best - of the three episodes broadcast thus far with rather too much talking and nowhere near enough massive fek-off girl-on-girl kung-fun action (although the one example of the latter that we did get was rather fine). This blogger enjoyed the fact that one of the symptoms of the alien disease was Vitamin D deficiency (see above). Maybe it's the first sign that this blogger has, in addition to all of his other ailments, contracted The Illyrian Virus. It was nice to see that, even after fifty odd years, Star Trek still has the ability to be inclusive for its viewers.
Better - much better - was The Man Who Fell To Earth: Under Pressure. Somebody should really clue Chiwetel up that operating an electronic devise whilst sitting in a bath is a jolly dangerous thing to do. This blogger is loving Rob Delaney getting all the funny dialogue ('Woah! Nice penis!') ... Well, all the funny dialogue that Naomie Harris and Bill Nighy didn't get, that is. Juliet Stevenson pulled off a superb impression of Candy Clark's accent and mannerisms, if not (necessarily) her character. After forty years we finally get to hear what that LP Tommy Newton was holding when he met Nathan Bryce in the café at the end of the movie actually sounded like. Low slowed down and played backwards, basically. 'Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows!' God, this blogger loves this series. Minus points, however, for a throwaway reference to From The North ... whatever the opposite of favourite is, Lenny Henry (last, briefly, funny in 1983).
From The North favourite Endeavour reportedly begins filming its ninth series on Sunday.
A memorial plaque on a bench overlooking South Beach in Aberystwyth which contained a naughty bad swear word, has been removed. By people without a sense of humour, it would seem. The plaque had been placed on a bench on the Castle grounds, overlooking the sea and read: 'In loving memory of Huw Davies. Used to sit here and shout "Fuck off!" at the seagulls.' Despite the plaque being widely shared - and admired - on social media, a spokesperson for Ceredigion County Council said: 'An unauthorised plaque had been placed, by an unknown person, on an existing bench within Aberystwyth Castle grounds. The plaque has been removed.' Humourless glake.
It's now time for the nominees for the latest From The North Headline Of The Week awards, dear blog reader. Kicking-off (in more ways than one) with BBC News's Wayne Rooney Says FA Wanted Rebekah Vardy To Calm Down. Just one of several brilliant headlines from across the media concerning the so-called 'Wagatha Christie' libel trial. The same website also provided readers with 'ten things that we've learned' from the trial. Eleven, if you count 'who, actually, gives a fek about this nonsense.'
The Sun were also having a lot of fun with the Vardy/Rooney grudge match. And, seemingly, losing the ability to speak recognisable English in the process.
The Daily Lies regularly features comedy genius in its headlines but this blogger is forced to admit that 'I'm A Super Soldier Fighting In Space War After Being Abducted By Fifteen Foot Alien Dracula' is a corker even by their, unique, standards. If you're wondering, dear blog reader, this 'story' - and, this blogger uses that word quite wrongly - by Jade Culver concerns one Russ Kellett from Filey, who claims that for the past thirty years he has been part of an alien army fighting the Dragos which are tall and scaley with heads like dragons. Marvellous work, Jade. A Pulitzer is, surely, yours for the taking.
This has, clearly, been Mental People With Tales About Aliens Week at the Daily Lies as, not only did they present the previous - extremely silly - item but, also, Woman Who 'Loves Alien' Refuses To Show Its Face For 'Area Fifty One Security Reasons'. In which Abbie Bela - also known as Emanuela Rose - claims that she met her 'alien boyfriend' when she was abducted in London and that he captains a UFO which is, currently, circling Earth.
USA Today's Influencer Parents Who Let Six-Year-Old Son Run Marathon Say They Were Visited By CPS is also worthy of being drawn to the attention of a wider readership. Whether the 'influencer parents' involved, Ben and Kami Crawford, managed to 'influence' the authorities to let them off with their potentially-illegal bad parenting ways is unknown. 
The AOL News website published the thoroughly brilliant Man Denies Assaulting Sir Iain Duncan Smith By Putting Traffic Cone On His Head. Which sounds like it should be a new national sport, frankly. Sadly, this appears to be one of those cases of a headline writing as cheque that the accompanying article couldn't, possibly, cash.
Still knee-deep in the political arena, hats off to the Daily Record for Renfrewshire Councillor Accused Of Calling Political Rival A 'Walloper' On Facebook. Walloper, incidentally, is Scottish slang for a big, throbbing dong. Whether the political rival thus described particularly minded being compared to a massive member we simply don't know.
Next, dear blog reader, we turn to the climax of the socherball season. The top four Premier League teams will, as usual, qualify for the Champions League group stages. Shekih Yer Man City, The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and The Club Formerly Known As Moscow Chelski FC are already assured of top-four places. However, even if Liverpool win this season's Champions League final (they play Real Madrid on 28 May), there will be no extra place for English clubs. The title race is, as it has been since August, between City and The Pool, who are separated by but one point going into the final games on Sunday. The fourth Champions League place is between Stottingtot Hotshots and The Arse. Realistically, however, because of Spurs' vastly superior goal difference, they will finish in the top four unless they lose their final game (at Norwich) and Arsenal win theirs (at home to Everton). Liverpool's victories in both the FA Cup and theee Carabao Cup mean that the European places from those competitions automatically revert to the league. The fifth and sixth-placed Premier League teams will qualify for the Europa League group stage, while the seventh-placed team will earn a - much-coveted - place in the Europa Conference League play-off round. Sixth and seventh places is between The Scum and West Hamsters United and will be decided on the last day of the season (The Scum are at Crystal Palace, The Hamsters visit Brighton & Hove Albinos). Norwich's relegation was confirmed on 30 April when they lost to the Aston Villains, while Watford joined them on 7 May after their defeat at Crystal Palace. The final relegation place is between Burnley and Dirty Leeds following Everton's come-from-behind victory over Crystal Palace on Thursday.
Dear blog readers will, however, excuse this blogger if her doesn't mention one of the best stories of the Premier League season, the unexpected (but, very welcome) turnaround in fortunes of his beloved (and now, thankfully, sold) Newcastle United. On 20 November, twelve days after Eddie Howe was appointed as manager to replace that odious stinker Steve Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty), a draw with Brentford - coupled with Norwich beating Southampton - saw The Magpies sink to the foot of the table, winless after a dozen games and, seemingly, heading straight for the Championship. Fast forward five months, a much-needed transfer window and eleven wins from eighteen games since January and Howe and his team now sit comfortably in twelfth place, the threat of relegation having long-since been banished. Sceptics - and, several of the odious Mister Bruice's big-mouthed fiends in the media in particular - questioned whether Howe was the right appointment at St James' Park due to his attacking style of play. However, the dramatic u-turn in Th' Toon's form has silenced the doubters and made Howe a genuine hero to The Magpies' fanbase. So, many congratulations are due to 'the fellah from Bournemouth who got a team relegated' (according to his odious predecessor in the St James' Park dug-out). There are actual smiles on faces at Gallowgate these days, something notably absent during the majority of Mike Ashley's reign of misery.
Fulham clinched promotion back to the Premier League on 19 April with a three-nil win over Preston Both Ends and won the Championship title with a game to spare on 2 May, beating Luton seven-nil. Runners-up Bournemouth made sure of the second automatic promotion place on 3 May when defeating Nottingham Forest. In the play-off final at Wembley on 29 May, Huddersfield Town (who beat Luton in their semi-final) will face Nottingham Forest (who edged past Sheffield United on penalties amid scenes of a geet rive-on with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts). The Middlesbrough Smog Monsters missed out on the play-offs, thrashed at Preston on the final day of the season. Blackburn Rovers, Millwall and West Bromwich Albinos (the latter now managed by That Nasty Mister Brucie fellow) also failed to make the play-offs. Cash-strapped Derby County's relegation to League One was confirmed on 18 April after a defeat at Queens Park Strangers (the scowl on Wayne Rooney's boat-race could be seen from space, dear blog reader), whilst Barnsley joined them four days later after a two-nil loss at Huddersfield. Peterborough United became the third relegated club, losing at home to Nottingham Forest on 23 April. Reading, Birmingham City and Hull City all avoided the drop.
Wigan Not Very Athletic clinched promotion to the Championship and won the League One title when they beat Shrewsbury three-nil on the final day of the season. Rotherham United made sure of the second automatic promotion place, winning three-nil at Gillingham. In the play-off final on 21 May, Wycombe Wanderers (who beat Milton Keynes Dons in their semi-final) will face Sunderland after The Mackem Filth overcame Sheffield Wednesday. Plymouth Argyle, Oxford United, Notlob Wanderers and Ipswich Town were among those who were in contention for a play-off place for much of the season but, ultimately, missed out. Crewe Alexandra were the first EFL club to be relegated on 9 April when they lost two-nil to fellow strugglers Doncaster Rovers. Relegation was not confirmed for the other three clubs until the last day of the season as Doncaster drew at Oxford, AFC Wimbledon lost four-three to Accrington Stanley (who are they?) and Gillingham lost three-nil to Rotherham. Fleetwood Town avoided relegation due to their superior goal difference whilst Morecambe & Wise FC finished two points clear of the drop zone.
Forest Green Hippy Rovers - and their, much-sung-about, meat-free pies - booked their place in League One with a goalless draw at Bristol Rovers on 23 April, while Exeter City were promoted three days later after beating Barrow two-one at the other St James' Park. Forest Green made sure of the title, drawing two-two at Mansfield on the final day, when Joey Barton's Bristol Rovers dramatically clinched the third automatic promotion place with a sensational seven-nil victory over already relegated Scunthorpe. In the play-off semi-finals, Mansfield Town beat Northampton Town, while Port Vale defeated Swindon Town on penalties. Sutton United, Tranmere Rovers, Salford FC and Newport County were among those who threatened to challenge for the play-offs but fell short. The bottom two teams were relegated to the National League; Scunthorpe United on 15 April when they lost three-nil at Leyton Orient while Oldham Not Very Athletic (a Premier League club as recently as 1994) joined them after losing two-one to Salford on 23 April in a game which was completed behind closed doors after initially being abandoned following a pitch invasion by outraged Latics fans. Barrow, Stevenage, Carlisle United, Harrogate Town, Rochdale and Hartlepool all limped to safety, largely due to the on-pitch ineptitude of the two relegated clubs.
National League Champions Stockport County were promoted to League Two after beating Halifax two-nil. In the first round of the play-offs, Notts County play Grimsby Town on 23 May while FC Halifax entertain Chesterfield the following day. The winner of Notts County or Grimsby will then visit Wrexham in the semi-finals on 28 May, while Halifax or Chesterfield will be away to Solihull Moors - with the semi-final winners meeting on 5 June for a place in League Two. The bottom three teams were relegated to the National League North or South. Dover Athletic, deducted twelve points for failing to complete their 2020-21 fixtures, were the first club from England's five major leagues to be relegated after a two-nil defeat by Yeovil Town on 19 March. They were joined by Weymouth on 26 April when they lost six-one to Wrexham and King's Lynn Town on 30 April after a three-all draw with Eastleigh. The champions and play-off winners of the North and South divisions will all be promoted to the National League, restoring it to twenty four clubs. Maidstone United clinched the Southern title on 30 April, with Gateshead making sure of the North title on 2 May. G'yiddip Th' Heed! Both of the play-off finals are on 21 May. York City host Boston United at the LNER Community Stadium whilst Dorking Wanderers and Ebbsfleet United compete for the Southern promotion slot.
Scottish Premier League champions Glasgow Celtic clinched the title on 11 May, drawing at Dundee United and will enter the Champions League at the group stage (following the ban of Russian clubs from UEFA's 2022-23 competitions). Runners-up Glasgow Rangers will enter the Champions League at the third qualifying round. They would have gone straight into the group stages if they had won the Europa League final this week but, they lost on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt. Because both Rangers and third-placed Heart Of Midlothian have reached the Scottish Cup final, Hearts will enter the Europa League at the play-off round. Fourth-placed Dundee United gained a place in the Europa Conference League third qualifying round and fifth-placed Motherwell will enter the same competition at the second qualifying round. Bottom placed Dundee's relegation to the Scottish Championship was confirmed on 11 May after St Johnstone beat Aberdeen. Having finished eleventh, St Johnstone face Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle in a two-legged play-off on 20 and 23 May.
Kilmarnock were promoted to the Premiership after beating nearest Championship rivals Arbroath on 22 April. In the play-off final, Inverness Caledonian Thistle will meet St Johnstone for the final place in next season's Premiership. Bottom club Queen of the South were relegated to League One on 23 April. Ninth-placed Dunfermline Athletic were relegated on 7 May after losing their play-off semi-final to League One side Queen's Park. Cove Rangers were promoted to the Championship as League One champions on 23 April after beating Dumbarton, while Queen's Park earned the second promotion place, defeating Airdrieonians in the play-off final. East Fife were relegated to League Two on 16 April after losing three-one to Falkirk. Ninth-placed Dumbarton were relegated on 7 May after losing their play-off semi-final to League Two side Edinburgh City. League Two champions Kelty Hearts clinched automatic promotion with a win over Stenhousemuir on 26 March, while Edinburgh City were promoted on 13 May after overcoming Annan Athletic in the play-off final. Cowdenbeath were relegated to the Lowland League on 14 May after losing a play-off to Lowland champions Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, who will replace them in League Two in 2022-23.
There will, as usual, be dancing in the streets of The New Saints. The Oswestry club won the Cymru Premier League for the fourteenth time by a record twenty one points and, in doing so, qualified for the Champions League. Saints then completed the double, winning the Welsh Cup final against Penybont. Linfield won the Northern Ireland Premiership, ahead of Cliftonville and Glentoran. Crusaders, Larne and Coleraine also qualified for the Europa Conference League play-offs.
A double from the Argentina striker Lautaro Martínez earned Internazionale a three-one win at Cagliari, a victory which ensured the Serie A title race will go to the final weekend. With the leaders, AC Milan, having beaten Atalanta two-nil at the San Siro earlier on Sunday, Inter had to win in Sardinia to keep the title race alive, going in front through Matteo Darmian. Martínez added a second after the break and Inter appeared on course for a comfortable ninth win in ten matches, before Charalampos Lykogiannis brought Cagliari back into the game. Inter suffered some nervous moments before Martinez's second secured the game. Victory meant that Inter remained two points behind their Milan rivals. The champions must beat Sampdoria at home on Sunday and hope AC lose at Sassuolo, if they are to retain the Scudetto. Elsewhere in Serie A, Napoli made sure they will finish third, ahead of Juventus, after a three-nil win over Genoa. In La Liga, where Real Madrid had already been crowned champions some weeks ago, a late header from Youssef En-Nesyri earned Sevilla a draw at Atlético Madrid, securing Champions League qualification despite extending their winless run to four games. With one match remaining, the result left Sevilla fourth on sixty seven points, three ahead of Real Betis, but with a better head-to-head record against their local rivals. The Copa Del Rey winners, who had already secured a Europa League spot, won two-nil at home against Granada. Barcelona were held to a goalless draw at Getafe, but still wrapped up second place ahead of Atlético to secure a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup. Real Sociedad secured a spot in the Europa League after recovering from going a goal down to win two-one at Villarreal. They are sixth on sixty two points, six ahead of Unai Emery's Villarreal who could failed to qualify for European competitions entirely, after reaching the Champions League semi-finals earlier this season. They are only one point ahead of eighth-placed Athletic Bilbao, who won two-nil against Osasuna. Villarreal play Barcelona next Sunday while Sevilla play Bilbao, who are still fighting for seventh place and a spot in the Europa Conference League. Alavés were relegated following a three-one defeat by Levante, while a Rúben Sobrino strike earned Cádiz a reprieve as they kept alive their slim hopes of avoiding the drop with a home draw against Real Madrid. The four-times Bundesliga champions Werder Bremen won promotion back to the top division after a one-year absence with a two-nil victory over Jahn Regensburg that sealed runners-up spot in the second division. Fußballclub Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04 had already secured the 2 Bundesliga championship and promotion a year after they were also relegated. Hamburger SV came from a goal down to beat Hansa Rostock three-two and finish third ahead of Darmstadt on goal difference. This sets up a play-off with Hertha Berlin in Hamburg's attempt to return to the top flight after four years. Hertha, who finished sixteenth in the Bundesliga, are managed by the former Hamburg great Felix Magath. Fußball-Club Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig secured the top-four spots and places in the Champions League. Union Berlin and SC Freiburg earned Europa League finishes whilst Köln grabbed a Europa Conference League place ahead of Mainz, Hoffenheim and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Paris Saint Germain had already won Lique Une long before their four-nil victory over Montpellier lasy weekend and are currently fifteen points clear of second placed Monaco. Third placed Marseille and Rennes sit in the other Champions League places although Strasbourg and Nice both have a mathematical chance of finishing fourth. Lens, Lyon, Nantes and Lille complete the top ten. Metz, Bordeaux and one of the cult sides of the 1970s, Saint-Étienne, were relegated. Ajax were crowned Dutch champions with an emphatic five-nil victory over Heerenveen at the Johan Cruijff Arena, giving Scumchester United-bound coach Ten Hag the perfect send-off. The Amsterdam club, who have now extended their record number of domestic league titles to thirty six, finished four points clear of second-placed PSV Eindhoven. Ten Hag ended his four-and-a-half-year stay at the club with a third Eredivisie title. Feyenoord, FC Twente, AZ Alkmaar, SBV Vitesse Arnhem, FC Utrecht and SC Heerenveen also secured qualification for European competitions whilst Heracles Almelo, Willem II and PEC Zwolle were relegated. Go Ahead Eagles Deventer, to the relief of their legion of non-Dutch fans, finished thirteenth. In the Portuguese Primeira as expected, The Big Three - FC Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica - occupied the top three places. Others who will be competing in next season's Champions League include Club Brugge and Union Saint-Gilloise (Belgium), RB Salzburg and Sturm Graz (Austria), Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine - assuming the Russians haven't bombed them to oblivion by then), Trabzonspor (Turkey), FC København and Midtjylland (Denamrk) and Apollon Limassol (Cyprus). And, Qarabağ (Azerbaijan), Malmö FF (Sweden), Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria), Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova), CFR Cluj (Romania), Bodø/Glimt (Norway), Ferencváros (Hungary), Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia), HJK (Finland), Inter Club d'Escaldes (Andorra), Žalgiris (Lithuania), Lincoln Red Imps (Gilbraltar), Shamrock Rovers (Eire), Zrinjski (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Sutjeska Nikšić (Montenegro), Shakhtyor Soligorsk (Belarus), KÍ Klaksvík (Faroe Islands), Lech Poznań (Poland), F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg), Hibernians (Malta), FC Tobol (Kazakhstan), Shkupi (North Macedonia), RFS (Latvia), Dinamo Batumi (Georgia), Tirana (Albania), Ballkani (Kosovo), FCI Levadia (Estonia), Víkingur Reykjavík (Iceland), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Olympiacos (Greece), Viktoria Plzeň (Czech Republic), Maccabi Haifa (Israel) and FC Zürich (Switzerland). Plus the - as yet undecided - winners of the domestic leagues in Serbia, San Marino, Slovenia and Armenia. But, definitely not Zenit St Petersburg. They have been extremely banned from the competition. Due, mainly, to the criminally-deranged activities of their nasty President (and, his very small penis). Liechtenstein is the only UEFA member nation not to have their own league and hence do not have a spot in the Champions League. Liechtensteinian club sides play in the Swiss regional leagues, with FC Vaduz currently playing in the second highest Swiss division (The Challenge League).
And finally, dear blog reader, this blogger has already bragged - on several occasions - about the significant increase in daily traffic which From The North has experienced over the last few months ... so, there's absolutely no reason whatsoever not to do so again.
Especially as, dear blog readers, an event worthy of being shouted from the very rooftops of The Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House occurred here at From The North on Thursday afternoon. This blog's ten millionth page hit since it began in March 2006.
Ten million is 'quite a lot', if you were wondering dear blog readers. And, let's face it, they can't all have arrived at this blog by accident or in a fruitless search for pornography, surely? It appears this blogger is doing something right.
So, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping thanks all of you for your continued patronage of From The North through the bad times and the good. And, here's to the next ten million ...