Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Triple Pillar Of The World Transformed Into A Strumpet's Fool

It is not often, dear blog reader, that yer actual Keith Telly Topping get to say 'I told you so.' On any subject. But, when this blogger appeared on the legend that is Alfie Joey's BBC radio show on 2 April and was asked about whom he believed would be the next Doctor, his reply was: 'I don't think the next Doctor is going to be white, I'm pretty sure the next Doctor is going to be a man ... if it is, it'll be an actor of colour, it'll be either a British-Asian or a British Afro-Caribbean actor.' So, ahem, 'I told you so!' There, that didn't hurt too much, did it? What can this blogger say, dear blog reader? He does predictions on sporting events too. The next Grand National will be won by a horse; the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix will be won by someone driving a car. Et cetera.
Soon-to-be-outgoing Doctor, yer actual Jodie Whittaker, is said to be 'happy' about the identity of the actor set to replace her. This is according to Russell Davies (who knows both of them quite well). The returning Doctor Who showrunner spoke to BBC News just hours after Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the new Doctor and revealed that he had talked to Whittaker about the then-forthcoming announcement. Speaking on the BAFTA red carpet, Big Rusty was asked about what's to come after Whittaker's exit: 'We're not giving anything away yet, Jodie's still The Doctor. We love Jodie, we spoke to her yesterday. She's so happy about this, but we're going to keep quiet. It's all going to happen in 2023.' He described Whittaker's last episode as 'beyond epic' and a 'ten-year-old's fantasy version of Doctor Who but with muscle and punches of light and colour.' He also confirmed that Whittaker's finale will be a ninety minute episode
Of course, sadly, not everyone was as a happy as Jodie is reported to be at the casting of Ncuti. Fictional Alien Time Travellers Can't Be Black, Insist Morons was the News Thump take on a brief, but horrifying, series of outbursts from people who claim to be Doctor Who fans and who are, in theory, old enough not to be hideous bigoted twats. In theory being the operative phrase, here. Often, satire speaks the truth better than facts. Of course, such nonsense isn't new or, indeed, confined to the lead character but, seriously dear blog reader, it's 2022. Do we have to put up with scumbag racially-motivated shit like this?
While some Doctor Who fans thought they were certain about the identity of the next Doctor - including several who claimed to have an inside 'source' on the casting process - almost nobody predicted it would be Ncuti Gatwa. Much to the delight of Big Rusty who revealed that he planted 'a couple of misleading things' about the next Doctor's identity on the Interweb to 'throw fan speculators off the scent.' Speaking to the press at the BAFTAs, Russell said that he'd kept Gatwa's casting news under wraps for three months. 'None of you even guessed,' Russell said. '[Ncuti]'s so brilliant and so popular, he wasn't even guessed, so I'm feeling a little bit victorious here.' He continued: 'There's been a few false stories and false tales and we placed a few posts ourselves, a couple of misleading things and we're very pleased that kind of worked.' However, Davies clarified that the rumour odious, unfunny bucket of lard James Corden might be taking on the role wasn't one of his, adding: 'We didn't plant that one.' While Rusty did not expand on which names he had planted in the press, a number of actors previously associated with the award-winning screenwriter were rumoured to be Jodie Whittaker's replacement, including Years & Years star T'Nia Miller, It's A Sin's Olly Alexander as well as The Fugitive Doctor, Jo Martin.
The casting of a new Doctor, inevitably, brought a massive media blitz. Consider, dear blog reader, some of the following: Ncuti Gatwa: The Scottish-Rwandan Roots Of The Fourteenth Doctor Who from the BBC Scotland. Whom, one hoped, would have done enough research to know that a) he's not the fourteenth Doctor (he's at least the eighteenth actor to play the role on television) and b) the character is called The Doctor, the programme (a popular, long-running family SF drama, you might've heard of it) is called Doctor Who. Does anyone else remember when the BBC, like the Radio Times, used to be staffed by adults? The Gruniad Morning Star's James Cooray Smith wrote a decent opinion piece entitled Why Ncuti Gatwa Is An Inspired Choice For Doctor Who Fans (because, obviously, James asked all of them), whilst his colleague, Zoe Williams, suggested Ncuti Gatwa Will Make Doctor Who New & Exciting Again - Just Like Jodie Whittaker Did. The Gruniad's fellow Middle Class hippy Communists at the Independent were on spiky form, Lola Christina Alao's Spare Me The White Feminism, Ncuti Gatwa Deserves To Be Doctor Who Star being a splendid example of slapping down dissent from vegan quiche-eaters over another sex change for The Doctor. (Just to be clear, this blogger, as From The North's regular dear blog readers will know, has no problem whatsoever with The Doctor being male, female, black, white, gay, straight, bi-curious et cetera. All of The Doctor's have been great, in this blogger's opinion. Expect for Colin Baker. Who wasn't.) At the Torygraph, Michael Hogan suggested The Choice Of Ncuti Gatwa Proves The BBC Has Given Up Trying To Please 'Legacy' Doctor Who Fans. Which may well be true but, it's arguable, that's been an - entirely justified - policy of the production which has been on-going since 2005. The Sun's Danni Scott, meanwhile, using as few words with more than two syllables as possible, went with Who Is Ncuti Gatwa? Err... he's an actor, Danni. Quite popular with Young People, apparently (this blogger, who is not Young People, can't claim to be an expert on his previous work but is very much looking forward to acquainting himself with Ncuti's oeuvre). The Daily Scum Mail claimed an 'exclusive' with 'We Are VERY Proud Of Him!': New Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa's Father - Who Brought His Family To Britain To Flee Rwandan Genocide - Tells Of His Joy At Sex Education Actor Being Named As Fourteenth Time Lord. Pausing, once again, to note that the character is called The Doctor and Ncuti is not the fourteenth actor to play him (or her) on television. And, whilst the article itself appears to be completely respectful, one just knows that at least a portion of the Scum Mail's odious right-wing readership will be reading it over their full English breakfast muttering 'bloody Asylum Seekers, they come over here, they take our National Icons ...' Something, the News Thump was quick to parody with New Doctor Who Plot Line To See Doctor Deported By Priti Patel. It'd be funny, dear blog reader, if it wasn't so painfully near the truth. The Week's Ncuti Gatwa: 'Stratospheric Rise' From Couch-Surfer To Doctor Who is worth a read. As are the New Statesman's Together, Ncuti Gatwa & Russell T Davies Can Make Doctor Who A Show For Brits To Be Proud Of (what, you mean it wasn't already?), Far Out magazine's Why Ncuti Gatwa Is A Godsend For The Series and the Dumbarton & Vale Of Leven Reporter's New Doctor Who Star Ncuti Gatwa Can 'Finally Breathe' for an interesting local angle.
Dear blog readers may also like to check out coverage of Ncuti's casting announcement in media organs as diverse as USA Today, Radio Times, Radio Times again, the Digital Spy website, Metro, PopBuzz, Prestige Hong Kong, SaltWire, Hunter Valley News, Winona Daily News, Le Monde (it helps if you speak French, obviously), El Mundo (it helps if you speak Spanish), AD (it helps if you speak Dutch), Spiegel (it helps if you speak German), Liputan 6 (it helps if you speak Indonesian), the BuzzFeed website (it helps if you speak 'youf'), Nerdevil (it helps if you speak Italian), Deadline, Zentraplus (all of those who are now thoroughly bored with this running joke, please raise your hand), the Daily Record, the Den Of Geek website, the Bismarck Tribune, O Vicio (okay, you can all put your hands down, now) and Entertainment Weekly. Ncuti was also, obviously, interviewed by the Beeb and comes over as ... adorable, frankly.
Meanwhile, here's what the more sensible parts of Doctor Who fandom had to say on the subject.
Of course, there is also the - how shall we put this? - non-sensible part of Doctor Who fandom. Most of them extremely active on Twitter and a particularly well-known fan forum, these days referred to by those who used to frequent it as T'Dark Place. What was going on there in the hours immediately after the announcement of Ncuti's casting, you may be wondering? Well it was, genuinely, a sight to see, dear blog readers. According to at least one glake of, one imagines, somewhat diminished responsibility, Ncuti Gatwa was only announced as the next Doctor in order to 'hide the fact that it's really David Tennant' returning to the role. As conspiracy theories go, this one is right up there with NASA having faked the Moon landings and Elvis being alive and well and living in Kick-Ass Nebraska. The theory - the Doctor Who conspiracy theory, that is, not that Elvis Faked His Own Death - states that the Ncuti casting announcement is 'all a ruse to keep Tennant's return secret because that's the real story.' Once again, this blogger feels compelled to state what should be bleedin' obviously to even the most challenged of brains - it is perfectly possible that David will, indeed, be making an appearance in next year's Sixtieth Anniversary Special (along with, perhaps, some of the other living Doctors and Catherine Tate); but the chances of him returning to the production in anything more than a one-off guest-slot remain what they've always been, jolly unlikely. The 'proof' of Tennant's return, according to the conspiracy theorists, is that Russell did not, specifically, refer to Ncuti as the fourteenth Doctor. Though, given the fact that he's - at least - the eighteenth, that was probably understandable. Doctor Who fandom, dear blog reader; it's an odd, bewildering, sometimes dangerous, but always entertainingly bonkers place. It is, on the one hand, full of creative, passionate, amazing and mostly harmless individuals. As this blogger has noted previously, these are my people and this blogger won't have a word said against them. Except that, sadly, Doctor Who fandom also contains more than a few twenty four-carat heedbangers. Which is something far less worth celebrating than all of the good stuff fandom has produced.
Just over a year ago, the Screen Rant website published a lengthy article Every Actor Almost Cast As Doctor Who (and, again, the character is called The Doctor! Listen, it's a very easy thing to get right). Which, whilst mostly based on first-hand claims from many of those alluded to in the article, still manages to miss a few (Jim Dale and Ron Moody - again - in 1974, Tony Robinson in 1987, Anthony Head in 1996, Chiwetel Ejiofor in 2010) and also includes a couple of somewhat dubious claims. But it's a, recommended, fun and fascinating read.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has been interviewed this week by the Hollywood Reporter's TV's Top Five podcast, discussing Doctor Who, Sherlock and his forthcoming adaptation of The Time Traveler's [sic] Wife. And, as usual, Steven if on terrific form. 
Hot Fuzz, Last Night In Soho and The Sparks Brothers filmmaker and From The North favourite Edgar Wright has reacted to fan speculation that he could be involved in the next series of Doctor Who. The director shared a number of alleged 'clues' on social media in the days after it was announced that Ncuti Gatwa had joined the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. On Tuesday, Wright posted a photographed of a blue door with a 'wet paint' sign affixed to it, 'strongly resembling' the door of the TARDIS (at least, according to some Middle Class hippy Communist twonk at the Independent). Another post depicted a pattern of hexagons, allegedly 'resembling the TARDIS's interior.' A third alleged 'clue', showed a diamond chandelier - the connection to Doctor Who on that even one the Indi didn't try to speculate upon. As a result, followers claimed that Edgar was 'cryptically teasing' his impending involvement in the franchise. The fact that the BBC couldn't afford to hire an award-winning director of motion pictures, notwithstanding. However, Edgar seemed to refute the suggestion on Twitter, responding to an article which claimed that he 'could be the latest glitzy addition to the next series of the iconic sci-fi show.' 'Untrue!' he posted in response. No shit? However, some fans - possibly the same ones that still believe David Tennant will really be the next Doctor (see above) - just aren't having it and have suggested that Edgar's response 'could', in fact, be deliberately misleading, highlighting the use of the phrase 'next series' in the tweet he was disputing. 'It's untrue because the Sixtieth Anniversary Special doesn't count as "the next series"' one brain-damaged moron (or, the victim of a cruel medical experiment) wrote, in seeming desperation. The true meaning of Edgar's Instagram posts remains unclear at the time of writing, though they are likely to be divulged eventually. Time will tell, dear blog reader. As a popular, long-running Gallifreyan once noted, 'it usually does.'
Fans of Life On Mars - and, this blogger was, very much, one - will be delighted to know that co-creators Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah have completed work on the pilot for a sequel series, Lazarus. Graham announced this on Twitter. Like Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, Lazarus is named after a David Bowie song. You knew that, right? Though there is currently nothing officially in place, if the drama is given a green light, Lazarus would aim to tie up the story and bring the franchise to a close. As for John Simm and Philip Glenister, both have expressed interest in returning to their roles as Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt, respectively.
A North East church was transformed into a film set almost overnight for the filming of the hit-series, From The North favourite Vera. Towering above Newcastle, St Michael's Roman Catholic Church became the latest filming location as cast and crew of the ITV crime drama were spotted filming on Wednesday according to the Northern Echo. Film trucks and catering vehicles were spotted around the church on Westmorland Road. 
The latest preview disc from the US arrived at The Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House this week. Strange New Worlds: Children Of The Comet was proper old-school Star Trek 'episode of the week'-type malarkey with nice characterisation and some sharp and witty humour in unexpected places.
The Man Who Fell To Earth: New Angels Of Promise was pretty astonishing. 'The stars look very different ... from here!' Yeah, three episodes in and it's still working. This blogger loved the recreation of Thomas Newton's CIA torture from the movie (Bill Nighy's got Bowie's voice down to perfection). Rob Delaney was also great in it. And, it's funny too, that was completely unexpected.
Anyone worried that From The North favourites Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's move from the BBC to the commercial sector may have dampened their fire will, hopefully, have been reassured by the opening two episodes of Kermode & Mayo's Take podcast. And, in particular, Mark's wonderfully amusing review of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (notably, his 'audio-description' of the scene they'd been sent for their review which included almost no dialogue).
The very excellent Jan Fennick's Wanting To Feel, To Know What Is Real, is a properly superb article on one of this blogger's favourite movies, Head which can be read on the We Are Cult website. Can you dig it, dear blog reader?
Another article you really need to have a leisurely gander at, dear blog reader, is Entertainment Weekly's interview with From The North favourite Neil Gaiman and Tom Sturridghe about the forthcoming adaptation of From The North favourite The Sandman. 'I think I have personally seen fifteen hundred Morpheus auditions,' Gaiman told EW. 'I hesitate to imagine how many [casting director] Lucinda Syson and her team have seen.' Gaiman gave Sturridge an important piece of advice early on in the production, to help distinguish his performance from another comic book icon. 'I growled at him once and said, "stop being Batman,"' Neil said. 'He was trying to get a bit whispery.' 'It was, literally, my first day!' Sturridge added. 'But it was incredibly helpful.'
And so, dear blog reader, we come to that regular part of the blog dedicated to this blogger's - much-whinged-about - on-going medical issues. For those who haven't been following the on-going saga which seems to have been on-going longer than The Sky At Night: This blogger spent several weeks feeling proper poorly for reasons no medical professional seemed able to discover; he got worse and spent a week in hospital; he was discharged; he had some - really painful - injections; then even more injections (equally painful); he recovered - somewhat - his previously missing-in-action appetite; he got a diagnosis; he had a meeting with his consultant; he told everyone that he was still suffering from fatigue and insomnia; he endured a second endoscopy and had another consultation with the excellent Doctor Nasir.
And then, on top of all that, he got toothache. The filling which this blogger had to his damaged back left molar last Thursday (mentioned in a previous From The North update) seemingly didn't work and this blogger spent the entire weekend in quite a bit of pain. No actually, amend that, quite a lot of pain. Fishing for sympathy here, dear blog reader. (Keith Telly Topping takes it as a sign of absolute professional pride that he managed to compile not one but two From The North updates under such trying circumstances.)
This blogger, therefore, rang up his dental practitioner first thing on Monday morning - having taken the precaution of not watching his DVD copy of Marathon Man the night before. Stressing the urgency of getting another appointment, he was delighted that they could fit him in that very day at 12.30 (2.30 would, admittedly, have been far more appropriate). This blogger saw, as usual, the very excellent Doctor Megha would said 'oh, you're back again?' Fantastically observant, this blogger thought. That's the sort of observational skills which makes for a great dentist. This blogger explained that he'd spent the previous three-and-a-bit days in excruciating fuggin' agony and we decided it was probably best for all concerned - but, especially, for this blogger - to extract the bothersome tooth. Forthwith, if not sooner. It was, in fact, the first extraction Keith Telly Topping has had in the best part of twenty years (when his then-dentist was Neil Young - true story).
So, this blogger - who isn't very good with needles at the best of times - received all of three injections into his mouth and then, when he was feeling as numb as an extremely numb thing, Doctor Megha revealed her dentistry tools - all of them. Specifically, The Poker, The Scraper, The Gouger and The Ripper.
The ghastly process, in fact, thankfully didn't take very long and it was, indeed, relatively painless as promised. Plus, it gave this blogger's mouth a useful symmetry since the back molar on the right side was the one Neil Young (I know, I know, but it's true, swear-to-God) removed back in 2004. This blogger remained - not entirely unpleasantly - numb for the next three hours until the novocaine wore off, at which point his mouth started hurting like jimbuggery. But the bleeding had stopped quite quickly, so that was a bonus as this blogger no longer resembled a vampire with a slightly lop-sided gob. In fact, he looked, rather appealingly, like a stroke victim.
Of course, that wasn't even close to being the end of the story, dear blog reader. You guessed that, right? Having suffered through Monday, this blogger had a horrible night with the tossing an' the turning and with him getting virtually no sleep (his third such night in a row). And, this blogger couldn't even blame this on the insomnia he's been suffering from of late, it was the pain from the extracted tooth wot done it. The painkillers which this blogger took before bed (and, topped up at some obscure hour of the early morning) finally started to kick in around 4am and this blogger managed a couple of hours somewhat fitful sleep before the sun came up. The rest of the day wasn't much better, either - with pain medication just barely taking the edge off the nagging throb in this blogger's mush.
Things did improve, marginally, on Wednesday - again, mainly thanks to the Tramadol®™ and Ibuprofen®™ this blogger was guzzling like Smarties®™. That said, there were still a couple of occasions where a wave of pain would flood over this blogger bringing him out in the kind of cold sweat that James Brown used to specialise in.
To matters unrelated to Keith Telly Topping's hypochondria, now. England have appointed former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum as their test coach on a four-year deal. McCullum will be in place for England's first test against New Zealand at Lord's on 2 June. He succeeds Chris Silverwood, who left his position in February following the heavy Ashes defeat in Australia. McCullum said that he is aiming to 'move the team forward into a more successful era' alongside new captain Ben Stokes. He added: 'In taking this role on, I am acutely aware of the significant challenges the team faces at present, and I strongly believe in my ability to help the team emerge as a stronger force once we've confronted them head-on.' England are winless in nine tests and have only one won of their past seventeen matches. McCullum's appointment continues England's post-Ashes overhaul, with Rob Key having taken over as Managing Director last month, replacing Andrew Strauss, who had stepped in on an interim basis following the sacking of Ashley Giles in February. Joe Root stood down as captain following March's series defeat in the West Indies and was replaced by Stokes. The England and Wales Cricket Board selection panel of Key, strategic adviser Strauss, chief executive Tom Harrison and performance director Mo Bobat said that McCullum was the 'outstanding candidate' for the role. 'I've enjoyed several robust conversations with Rob Key about the direction of travel for the team and have found his enthusiasm contagious,' added McCullum. 'I'm no stranger to bringing about change within a team environment and I can't wait to get started. Ben Stokes is the perfect character to inspire change around him, and I look forward to working closely with him to build a successful unit around us.' McCullum, who retired from playing in 2019, has never coached in first-class cricket, but played one hundred and one tests for New Zealand from 2004 to 2016 and was widely admired across the world of cricket for his enterprising captaincy and powerful batting. He is currently head coach of Indian Premier League franchise Kolkata Knight Riders and previously coached Trinbago Knight Riders to the 2020 Caribbean Premier League title. Kolkata are likely to go out of the IPL next Wednesday after their two remaining group games and McCullum is set to arrive in the UK later this month. The squad for the first Test against New Zealand will to be chosen next week. In looking for Silverwood's successor, Key split the England head coach position into Test and white-ball roles. McCullum, a close friend of England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, was initially approached over the white-ball post but has secured the test job ahead of former South Africa and India coach Gary Kirsten, who was thought to be favourite for the position. 'It has been a real privilege to get to know Brendon and understand his views and vision for the game,' said Key. 'He has a recent history of changing cricket culture and environments for the better and I believe he is the person to do that for England's red-ball cricket. I believe in Brendon and Ben Stokes - a formidable coach and captain partnership. Time for us all to buckle up and get ready for the ride.' After three tests against New Zealand, England face India in the rescheduled fifth test in July before a three tests series against South Africa in August and September. McCullum captained New Zealand in thirty one tests, sixty two one-day internationals and twenty eight Twenty20 internationals, leading them to the 2015 fifty-over World Cup final, where they were beaten by Australia. His spell as Black Caps test captain started a resurgence which eventually saw them win the World Test Championship last year under his successor, Kane Williamson. The wicketkeeper-batter scored over six thousand runs at an average of 38.64, with twelve hundreds - including the fastest test century of all time, off just fifty four balls against Australia in 2016. England are not as close to naming the new white-ball coach, with candidates likely to be interviewed again next week before the first engagement of the summer, a three-match one-day series in the Netherlands, begins on 17 June.
This, dear blog reader, is the gargantuan black hole that lives at the centre of our galaxy, pictured for the very first time. Known as Sagittarius A*, the object is a staggering four million times the mass of our Sun. What you see is a central dark region where the hole resides, circled by the light coming from super-heated gas accelerated by immense gravitational forces. For scale, the ring is roughly the size of Mercury's orbit around our star. That's about sixty million kilometres across. Fortunately, this monster is a long, long way away - some twenty six thousand light-years in the distance - so there's no possibility of us ever coming to any danger from it. The image was produced by an international team called the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration. It is their second such image after releasing in 2019 a picture of the giant black hole at the heart of another galaxy called Messier 87. That object was more than a thousand times bigger at six-and-a-half billion times the mass of our Sun placiung it, squarely, in the effing enormous column. 'But this new image is special because it's our supermassive black hole,' said Professor Heino Falcke, one of the European pioneers behind the EHT project. 'This is in "our backyard" and if you want to understand black holes and how they work, this is the one that will tell you because we see it in intricate detail,' the German-Dutch scientist from Radboud University Nijmegen told BBC News.
The first full-scale prototype of a rocket designed for launching small satellites from a Highlands spaceport has been unveiled. Forres-based Orbex said its final version of the nineteen metre-long Prime rocket would be re-useable and powered by a renewable bio-fuel, bio-propane. The rockets will be launched from Space Hub Sutherland, which could be operational later this year. The prototype will undergo trials at a testing facility in Kinloss in Moray. A separate plan to launch satellites from a facility in Shetland has also taken a major step forward. SaxaVord UK Spaceport and US-based Astra Space have agreed to collaborate on a planned programme of launches from a site on Unst. The spaceport secured planning permission earlier this year. Astra Space has already completed its first commercial rocket launch from Kodiak in Alaska. Launches from SaxaVord could start next year, subject to agreements and regulatory approvals. Orbex, which has manufacturing sites in the UK and Denmark, plans to launch micro satellites from Space Hub Sutherland, near Tongue.
Mad scientists have grown plants in lunar soil for the first time, an important step towards making long-term stays on the Moon possible. Researchers used small samples of dust collected during the 1969 to 1972 Apollo missions to grow a type of cress. Much to their surprise, the seeds sprouted after two days. 'I can't tell you how astonished we were,' said Anna-Lisa Paul, a University of Florida professor who co-authored a paper on the findings. 'Every plant - whether in a lunar sample or in a control - looked the same up until about day six.' After that, differences emerged. The plants grown in Moon soil started to show stress, developed more slowly and ended up stunted. What the plants actually taste like is not known at this time ... although, given that cress tastes like the ground anyway, there may not be much difference. But, those involved say it is a breakthrough and one that has Earthly implications. 'This research is critical to NASA's long-term human exploration goals as we'll need to use resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space,' said NASA chief Bill Nelson. 'This fundamental plant growth research is also a key example of how NASA is working to unlock agricultural innovations that could help us understand how plants might overcome 'stressful conditions' in food-scarce areas here on Earth.'
It was an experiment that saved hundreds of lives and changed the way the world communicates. On 13 May 1897, Guglielmo Marconi sent the world's first radio message across open water and he did it whilst visiting a seaside resort in Somerset. Marconi came to Weston-super-Mare looking to experiment with what he called 'telegraphy without wires.' He was initially interested in contacting ships, but his work led to a communications revolution. It paved the way for the radio and television broadcasts that we take for granted today. In 1896, Marconi came to the UK to conduct his experiments after trying - and failing - to gain interest in his work from the Italians. His assistant, George Kemp, was from Cardiff and suggested the Bristol Channel would be the perfect place to test it out. On 11 and 12 May Marconi's team placed a transmitter on Flat Holm, an island halfway across the Channel and began sending messages into the airwaves. Their initial attempts were a failure, with the team member in Lavernock waiting for a non-existent signal. Then on 13 May, Marconi sent a message of 'CAN YOU HEAR ME?' which was received loud and clear. Immediately, the team travelled back to Brean Down Fort, just South of Weston-super-Mare and set up again. A further message was sent a distance of nearly ten miles - a record at the time. 'Before Marconi, you had to use telegraph wires to contact people but with radio you could contact ships instantly,' said Dave Dyer, chairman of the Weston-super-Mare Radio Society. 'Take the Titanic for instance, which sent a distress call out, it saved so many lives at sea.' During the ship's sinking, wireless operator Jack Phillips sent out a 'CQD' message to ships nearby - a precursor to the 'SOS' signal now used. Philips, a Marconi Company employee, went down with the ship as he continued to broadcast and died in the disaster. Britain's Postmaster General, then Herbert Samuel, said: 'Those who have been saved, have been saved through one man, Mister Marconi and his marvellous invention.' The wireless became the only way for survivors on board the RMS Carpathia to contact their families. Since messages were charged per word, one simply read 'Safe, Bert.' In an ironic twist, Marconi narrowly avoided travelling on that fatal voyage - he was offered a free ticket for the Titanic but took the Lusitania three days earlier. Two months after his Weston experiments, Marconi set up the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company Ltd, which was one of the six founders of the British Broadcasting Company in 1922. Its first London station was 2LO and was broadcast from Marconi House, the headquarters of Marconi's company. 'The idea of broadcasting was big in America and people were clamouring for it here,' said Neil Wilson from the Radio Museum in Watchet. 'It was absolutely incredible - other than playing a gramophone record you couldn't hear music or speech from elsewhere.' Marconi's radios were designed to appeal to the mass-market, rather than to wireless amateurs who built complicated sets themselves. 'It became more of a pastime for the whole family. You could hear news reports from all over the country, without waiting for a newspaper, it was so revolutionary,' Wilson added.
Now extremely former President (and hairdo) Mister Rump must pay a one hundred and ten thousand bucks fine to the New York state attorney and meet other conditions to purge a contempt of court order for his failure to comply with a subpoena in a civil investigation into his business practices, a judge said on Wednesday. The judge, Arthur Engoron, told a virtual hearing a ten thousand dollars-per-day fine imposed on the now extremely former President in late April stopped accruing on Friday, when Rump and his lawyers filed new affidavits detailing steps they claim they took to find documents relevant to the investigation by Letitia James, the New York attorney general. One or two people even believed them. Rump has stated he does not have any relevant files, a claim Engoron said last month he found 'surprising.' For which read 'a bare-faced lie.' Probably. The judge gave Trump until 20 May to comply with additional conditions, which include submitting affidavits from his personal assistant and others familiar with his record-keeping practices and the completion of a report by a third-party firm hired to search Rump Organization records. The contempt order could be restored if those conditions are not met, Engoron said. James has said that her investigation has turned up evidence that the Rump Organization - which manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world - has given banks and tax authorities 'misleading financing information' in order to obtain financial benefits such as favorable loans and tax breaks. Rump denies wrongdoing and calls the investigation politically motivated. Although, to paraphrase the late - and much-missed - Mandy Rice-Davies, 'well he would, wouldn't he?'
Adidas sports bra adverts which featured photographs of bare-naked breasts have, reportedly, been banned for 'showing explicit nudity.' Images of the titties of dozens of women of various skin colours, shapes and sizes in a grid format appeared on a tweet and two posters. The Advertising Standards Agency - who clearly have some sort of collective repression issues - found all three versions 'likely to cause widespread offence.' To cretins. Adidas said the adverts 'show just how diverse breasts are' and therefore how 'important' the correct sports bra is. A spokesperson for Adidas UK said it 'stood proudly' behind the message which it continued to display on its website. The advertising watchdog received twenty four complaints - from cretins - that the advert's use of nudity was gratuitous and objectified women by sexualising them and 'reducing them to body parts.' Some people had contacted them asking whether the posters were appropriate to be on display where they could be seen by children. You know, the people for whom breasts were specifically designed. Twitter also said the post had been reported by some - repressed, trouble-making - users but was not found to be in breach of its terms of service. The ASA said it did not think the way the women were portrayed in the tweet was sexually explicit or objectified them or anything even remotely like it. But it did find that the tweet was likely to be seen as explicit nudity and required careful targeting to avoid causing offence. To cretins
A week after a major restaurant, bar and leisure complex in Newcastle was evacuated there is still no word on when it will reopen. The Gate was closed on Thursday 5 May after a 'safety concern' was discovered. Owner Crown Estates said that it shut the building complex to 'carry out further testing of the internal mechanisms that prevent the spread of a fire.' Crown Estates refused to give any more details. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said it had not been contacted. Newcastle City Council said it was told of 'a health and safety matter' but added that it was something Crown Estates would have to liaise with the fire service about. The fire service said the closure of The Gate was not because of an emergency or as the result of any tests it had carried out. The Health and Safety Executive also said it had 'not had any involvement with the incident.' A spokeswoman for Crown Estates said: 'The health and safety of all those in and around our places is our utmost priority. We recognise the impact this closure will have on businesses and visitors of The Gate and apologise for the disruption.' Cineworld, which has sixteen film screens in The Gate, said it had cancelled screenings for Thursday and any tickets booked would be refunded. On social media the cinema chain said: 'We hope to be able to announce a reopening date soon and in the meantime thank you for your patience and understanding and apologise for any inconvenience caused by the closure.' 
The families of naughty teenagers behind a 'wrecking spree' - when a shopping trolley was thrown at a train and an ambulance attacked - have been served with legal warnings. North Tyneside Council and Northumbria Police earlier visited ten rented properties in The Meadow Well and Waalsend linked to recent despicable anti-social behaviour. Parents of the rascals involved, aged thirteen to sixteen, were told they could face eviction from their gaffs over the nefarious skullduggery of their scallywag bairns. The parents have been served with warnings, with three households receiving a 'notice-seeking possession' - effectively a final warning for a tenant before eviction proceedings begin. The anti-social behaviour included vandalism to the roof of Riley's Fish Shack in Tynemouth, an attack on an ambulance crew at the Parks Sports Centre, North Shields and a shopping trolley being thrown at a moving Metro train earlier this month at Monkseaton, which disrupted services. Such attacks saw 'a joint project' set up between the council and police force called Operation Respect to catch the naughty perpetrators and terminate, with extreme prejudice, their rotten ways. Chief Inspector Colin Lowther, from Northumbria Police's North Tyneside Neighbourhood Policing Teams, said: 'I hope this acts as a strong warning to others - action will be taken against you if you cause anti-social behaviour that impacts the local community. North Tyneside is a great place to live and boasts fantastic community values, the majority of residents love and respect the area. Anyone found deliberately causing chaos and acting in an anti-social manner will be dealt with swiftly.' 
A North East council fears a large music festival will 'disturb residents' despite new rules limiting noise in a nearby park. Restrictions were imposed by Newcastle City Council on Exhibition Park events after the This Is Tomorrow festival attracted complaints in September. But, a council report says LooseFest, due to be held on the Town Moor in July, could 'expose residents to ten hours of repetitive bass music noise.' Being enjoyed by long-haired 'youfs' drinking their alcopops, smoking extremely potent skank and having The Sex, no doubt. The festival will have five dance music stages and a daily capacity of thirty thousand. The authority has agreed 'in principle' to allow the Freemen of Newcastle to hold the event, subject to noise and crowd dispersal plans being submitted by the organisers and approved. The Freemen's chairman David Wilson promised 'comprehensive' plans. 'We are working closely with the event promoters and the city council to ensure that this will be a fabulous event enjoyed by many people,' he said. 'We are very conscious of the need to minimise any associated effects from the event on the local community, in particular in respect of sound.' The Black Eyed Peas, Clean Bandit and Mabel (no, me neither) are among the acts due to play at the festival, which is being held on 30 and 31 July. The city council recently imposed restrictions on events in neighbouring Exhibition Park, including limiting music levels to 'no more than five decibels above existing background noise' and ending performances and the sale of alcohol at 10:30pm. A spokesman told the Local Democracy Reporting Service LooseFest's licence would 'be different, however we meet regularly with the event organisers who are aware of the noise restrictions.' A smaller three-day festival - the Rock n Roll Circus - is due to be held on The Moor next month and is expected to feature performers including Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Years & Years.
A driver who failed to heed signs warning of road resurfacing forced workers to tarmac around a parked car. Notices were, reportedly, put up on Huntley Street in Darlington alerting motorists to the road closure which was in effect on Monday and Tuesday. But the BMW owner clearly did not get the message and the vehicle was left outlined with fresh asphalt. Mind you, this is Darlo so, frankly, nothing should really surprise us. Darlington Council said that the work would be remedied 'but it will mean an extra cost' to the local authority. Traffic cones and signs had been erected to notify drivers there would be no parking and the road would be closed for two days. Residents say the street, which is close to Darlington railway station, is often used by commuters catching a train.
Hotels on the official list of recommended accommodation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are required to welcome guests in a 'non-discriminatory manner' or face termination of contracts, FIFA has said. A Scandinavian media survey showed that three of the sixty nine hotels on FIFA's official list of recommended accommodation will deny entry to same-sex couples. Twenty other hotels said they would accommodate them 'as long as they did not publicly show that they were gay' and thirty three hotels had 'no problem' with booking same-sex couples. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, which will host the World Cup from 21 November to 18 December. FIFA said that, since being made aware of the report, it had been in touch with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and 'will ensure that the hotels mentioned are once again made aware of our strict requirements in relation to welcoming guests in a non-discriminatory manner. Hotels, as well as any other service provider associated with the FIFA World Cup, who fail to comply with the high standards set by the organisers will have their contracts terminated. On top of that, the said requirements will continue to be reinforced in awareness-raising sessions and subsequently monitored and evaluated through audits and inspections of hotels linked to the FIFA World Cup. Qatar is fully aware of its responsibility to adhere to FIFA's expectations and requirements on human rights, equality and non-discrimination. Qatar is committed to ensuring that everyone will be able to enjoy the tournament in a safe and welcoming environment, to building bridges of cultural understanding and to creating an inclusive experience for all participants, attendees and local communities, including from the LGBTQI+ community.'
This week has seen the opening rounds of the so-called 'Wagatha Chrstie' trial. And, it's been sodding hilarious. Both the revelations in court and the press's coverage of the case. The high court, for example, heard that Rebekah Vardy 'deeply regretted' agreeing to sell a story to the Scum Of The World about her one-night stand with Peter Andre in 2004. The original article included alleged descriptions of the entertainer's sexual performance and comparisons of the size of his penis to a chipolata sausage. Vardy, claimed that she was 'was very young at the time' and had not had any further contact with Andre. 'I haven't spoken to him but I have sent his wife and him messages a couple of years ago.' Vardy claimed she was 'forced' to sell the story to the disgraced and disgraceful Scum Of The World by her ex-husband, Stephen Clarke. Clarke has always strongly denied forcing his ex-wife to sell the story and won a complaint on this matter with the press regulator IPSO when the accusation was first published in 2017. Vardy is attempting to clear her name by bringing the multimillion-pound libel case against Coleen Rooney after Rooney alleged that Vardy leaked information from a private Instagram account to journalists at the Sun. Vardy was previously accused of throwing her former agent and best friend Caroline Watt 'under a bus' in a last-ditch attempt to shift the blame and save her case. Vardy has suggested that Watt 'may' have been leaking stories from Rooney's private Instagram account to the Sun without her knowledge. Under questioning from her own barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, Vardy claimed she gave Watt the password to her personal Instagram account when Vardy appeared on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) in 2017. She also confirmed that she discussed posts on Rooney's private Instagram accounts with her agent in the knowledge that her agent was talking to journalists at the Sun about Rooney's private life. However, Vardy insisted this was not evidence that she was actively trying to leak information on Rooney to the Sun.
Now, dear blog readers, the From The North Headline Of The Week award. And we begin with the latest effort from the Sunday Sport - which, to be honest, this blogger thought had shut down years ago.
This blogger's thanks go to his old mate Nick Cooper for pointing him in the direction of the BBC News website's Woman Finds Three-Inch Leech In Nose After South East Asia Trip. And, for observing that she clearly got that idea for a specific episode of The X-Files.
My London News's North West London 'River Of Death' Smells So Bad It Makes Locals Throw Up deserves its nomination, despite it being factually inaccurate as it's not, actually, called The River Of Death. And, it's a brook, not a river. But, apart from that ...
The Romford Recorder's magnificent House Fire Started By A Squirrel Disrupts Funeral Procession Through Romford has pretty much everything you'd wish for in a Headline Of The Week nominee. Particularly, squirrels.
Meanwhile,Lincolnshire Live's New Static Caravans On Lincolnshire Former Golf Course 'Not Welcome' features the politest way of saying 'get orf moi laaaand' imaginable. With the implication that those occupying the New Static Caravans mentioned in the headline may well be, you know, Johnny Foreigners. Who smell.
This week's award winner, however, is the Derby Telegraph for the eye-wateringly brilliant Derby Man Freezes Dead Owl In Row With Property Developer.
And finally, dear blog reader, Brazilian defender Marcelo has rubbished reports that he was dropped by his former club, Lyon, for laughing and breaking wind. The thirty four-year-old centre-back - full name Marcelo Antonio Guedes Filho - left the Ligue 1 side in January, after being dropped from the senior squad. This week L'Equipe claimed that the reason for his departure followed a string of disciplinary issues, including inappropriate laughing during team talks and repeatedly farting in front of team-mates. 'Thanks to L'Equipe, after a long time, I have come back to Twitter to deny all the allegations,' Marcelo wrote on the social media platform, adding: 'Journalism nowadays is a joke!' It was his first tweet since May last year. It was not the first time there have been stories about the player's alleged attitude. In August last year, ESPN reported that he had been expelled from the senior Lyon team after he was caught laughing during captain Leo Dubois' post-match speech, following a heavy defeat by Angers, in which Marcelo himself scored an own goal. After training with Lyon's reserves, Marcelo was moved on to Bordeaux in January. His new club are currently bottom of Ligue 1. In June 2016, Adam Lindin Ljungkvist of the Swedish club Pershagen SK received two yellow cards, and finally a red, reportedly when he broke wind, loudly, during a match. The referee called Adam's flatulence 'unsportsmanlike' and, according to Adam, thought he was farting in an untoward manner. 'Every time I pushed my body I had to fart a little bit. It was one of those days,' Adam noted at the time. 'I don't really care about farting - everyone does it, it's a normal thing. But there's always going to be someone who doesn't like it.'