Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rodney Bewes: "In The Chocolate Box Of Life, The Top Layer's Already Gone. And Someone's Pinched The Orange Creme From The Bottom!"

Another part of year actual Keith Telly Topping's formative years has, sadly, left us. Rodney Bewes, who died this week aged seventy nine, found fame as the aspirational Bob Ferris in the 1960s BBC sitcom The Likely Lads and its subsequent 1970s sequel. Teaming Rodney with James Bolam, the series regularly drew audiences of more than twenty million. Despite the success and that of the - even better - sequel, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? and a more than decent movie adaptation, the two actors later fell out in spectacular style effectively ending the chance of the series being continued. It turned out to be the peak of Rodney's career and he later found himself reduced to playing a series of less distinguished roles.
Born in Bingley, Rodney was the son of Horace, a clerk with the Eastern Electricity Board showrooms in Bradford and Bessie, who taught children with learning disabilities. The family moved to Luton when Rodney was six, later returning to the North. He was something of a sickly child suffering from asthma. This led to him being largely home-educated by his parents and he developed a fantasy life by making model theatres out of shoe boxes and staging performances in them under the eiderdown of his bed. He also read extensively and ambitiously - including Dickens and the Greek classics. At thirteen, he saw an advertisement in his father's copy of the Daily Herald. The BBC were looking for a boy actor for its Children's Hour television production of Billy Bunter Of Greyfriars School. Rodney answered the advertisement and, although he did not get the part - which went to Gerald Campion - he was subsequently cast in Mystery At Mountcliffe Chase (1952), soon followed by other drama productions including a role as Joe in a 1952 adaptation of The Pickwick Papers. By the age of fifteen, he was living alone in a basement flat in London, where he joined the preparatory academy to RADA in Highgate, studying theatre in the mornings and switching to normal school work in the afternoons.
'All the kids were posh and they were the children of actors in the West End of London and I'm just this boy from Bingley and broad Yorkshire,' he later recalled. He spent three or four nights a week doing chores in the kitchens of the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane. His shift was from 6pm to 6am, after which he returned to Highgate, scrubbed the tables at the RADA school and then prepared food for lunch, before starting his lessons. Despite such patent determination, he did not succeed at RADA and was expelled by the principal, who wrote Bewes's mother a somewhat tart letter saying: 'I'm afraid that Rodney's talents lie in a direction other than acting.' In the later years of success, Bewes made light of this, pointing out sardonically that Alec Guinness was also booted out of RADA. After national service in the RAF, he managed to get jobs in repertory at Watford, Stockton-on-Tees, Hull, York, Eastbourne, Morecambe and Hastings. But he was determined to get on and showed some talent for networking. By his own admission, he 'made himself' meet the already successful fellow working-class actor Tom Courtenay, who had recently taken over from Albert Finney in the stage version of Billy Liar. The two began a lasting friendship and shared a flat together. Rodney managed to secure some small stage roles, as well as parts in TV productions including Dixon Of Dock Green, Emergency Ward Ten, The Plane Makers and Z Cars. He had a memorable role in the 1963 Nigel Kneale BBC play The Road as Sam Towler, an Eighteenth Century farm labourer who is driven mad by the screaming voices he hears in the woods which, in a shocking conclusion, turn out to be future echoes of terrified people fleeing from an impending atomic blast.
Rodney made his film debut in 1962 in Prize Of Arms, a story about a gang which attempts to rob an army payroll convoy. The film was notable for early performances by a number of later well-known actors including Tom Bell, Jack May, Michael Ripper and Fulton Mackay. A year later Rodney secured the role of Arthur Crabtree in the big-screen adaptation of Billy Liar, alongside his friend, Courtenay. It was the age of British cinema's so-called New Wave when filmmakers were turning their attention to gritty working-class dramas and desperate for actors with regional accents. Despite Bewes hailing from Yorkshire, rather than Tyneside, he was then cast as Bob Ferris in The Likely Lads, the first sitcom conceived by the team of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Contrary to common belief, the regional setting of the original Likely Lads series is never specified on-screen, merely that it is somewhere North of London. Indeed, Bewes often told the story of him asking Dick Clement where the location was and Clement getting a map, tracing a rough half-way point between the birthplaces of Bolam and Bewes and saying 'there!' It was Hartlepool. By the time of the sequel, however, Bob and Terry's homeboy turf was - perhaps reflecting La Frenais' own background, growing up in Whitley Bay - very definitely said to be 'near' Newcastle. The aspirational character of Robert Andrew Scarborough(!) Ferris was in stark contrast to that of his friend, Terry Collier, the workshy, cynical figure played by Sunderland-born James Bolam. Initially broadcast on the new BBC2 service, the series was later repeated on BBC1 to massive viewing figures. Three series - twenty episodes - were made, detailing the struggles of two street-wise, if accident-prone, boys employed in an electrical factory, trying to make sense of a changing world, while facing the usual temptations of beer, football and girls. Much of the comedy revolved around Bob's attempts to climb the social ladder in the face of constant derision from Terry.
The third series of The Likely Lads ended in 1966 Bob impulsively deciding to join the army and Terry rushing to join him, only to discover that his friend has been discharged because of flat feet (a radio adaptation was also made the following year). Rodney played a number of subsequent TV parts including episodes of Man In A Suitcase, Virgin Of The Secret Service and Father Dear Father and also appeared in films like Spring & Port Wine, Decline & Fall Of A Birdwatcher and a star-studded musical version of Alice In Wonderland in which he played The Knave Of Hearts.
He spent a year as 'Mister Rodney', who was one of a series of human straight men for the titular puppet fox on the BBC's Saturday early-evening children's programme The Basil Brush Show before creating and starring in a hugely popular - although now somewhat forgotten - ITV sitcom Dear Mother ... Love Albert! out of improvisations on the letters he had sent his own mother when he was living in London as a teenager. It showcased his skills as a scriptwriter and only ended when, in 1973, Rodney teamed up again with Clement, La Frenias and Bolam for the series that will almost certainly end up being the defining moment for all four, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?
The series saw Terry return from five years in the forces to discover a much-changed world, particularly in the case of Bob who has now bought his own house and car, secured a white collar middle management job and is engaged to the boss's daughter, the much-mocked Thelma (the excellent Brigit Forsyth). To a considerable degree, the comedy was built upon a basis of class observation, a theme very familiar to British TV audiences in the 1970s, a period of continuous industrial strife. Whereas Bob, Thelma and Terry's sister Audrey (Sheila Fearn) have adapted to the various changes that the last five years have brought, Terry's absence in the army results in him being left behind, a relic of the attitudes of the mid-1960s. It was a huge hit - generally considered to be one of the few TV sequels to actually surpass the original that it was based upon - as viewers followed the sparing between Bob, trying to improve his lot by moving away from Inkerman Terrace into a semi-detached life with Thelma on the Elm Lodge Housing Estate. Terry, meanwhile, was desperately trying to cling onto his roots as the Swinging Sixties rapidly turned into what one critic described as 'the sober and soon-to-be-unemployed Seventies.' And to constantly throw a metaphorical spanner into the new-found martial happiness of his old friend. Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? concerned change on all levels, literal and metaphorical, most obviously seen at the beginning of the fourth episode, Moving On, in which Bob takes Terry on a nostalgic tour of some of their old stamping grounds from the previous decade, most of which are now lone gone, replaced by multi-story car parks. (The location filming in Newcastle and Gateshead is almost a character in and of itself.) To emphasise continuity, the opening section of the title credits included a montage of black-and-white stills photos of Bob and Terry in scenes from the 1960s series, presented as if in a photograph album, accompanied by Mike Hugg's theme tune (with La Frenais' memorably bittersweet lyrics: 'Oh, what happened to you?/Whatever happened to me?/What became of the people we used to be?'). The photo album, it turns out, is the one which Bob gives to Terry during his Best Man speech at Bob and Thelma's wedding reception in the episode End Of An Era with the words 'Bob Ferris, this is your life!'
Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? remains one of this blogger's favourite TV shows, not just for geographical reasons but also because it was (and remains) a quite brilliantly scripted comedy with some very perceptive things to say about life and relationships. The opening episode - Strangers On A Train - for example is, effectively, a thirty minute duologue as Bob and Terry stumble into each other on-board an Inter City from London to Newcastle after five years of estrangement. It is, by turns, hilarious, touching, political and cleverly subversive.
Part of the success of the series - which ran for two series, twenty six episodes, plus a quite brilliant 1974 Christmas special - was the double act of Bewes and Bolam, whose on-screen chemistry was a masterclass of timing and pathos. Who, for example can forget the end of the series' most famous episode, No Hiding Place when, having spent an entire day trying increasingly desperate measures to avoid hearing the result of an England football game and win a bet, the pair sit down to watch the TV highlights only to discover that the match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch?
Off-stage Bewes and Bolam had enjoyed a broadly warm relationship whilst making the two series. 'We were great friends,' said Bewes. 'When my babies were born, his was the first house I went to.' In 1975 there was a film spin-off, The Likely Lads, which proved to be the last time the pair worked together. Far better than the standard small-to-big-screen transfers of the era, the movie - filmed almost exclusively in and around Newcastle - includes some of Clement and La Frenais' most memorable dialogue; not just the famous 'in the chocolate box of life' scene but, also, Terry's wistful reflection on the concept of Working Class sentiment, 'an indulgence for Working Class people who've cracked it through football or rock and roll!' Soon afterwards, Bolam - who was famous for guarding his privacy - was reportedly incandescent with rage when Bewes let slip to a newspaper that Bolam's wife, the actress Susan Jameson, had become pregnant. Bewes told the story as an amusing sidebar during an interview believing that it was already public knowledge; he said that Susan had announced she was pregnant to James whilst he was driving and that Bolam had 'almost crashed the car.' After a fraught phone call the two never spoke to each other again. 'There was this dreadful silence. He put the put the phone down. I called him back, He didn't answer. He hasn't spoken to me since,' Rodney said. Bolam, in fact, was so incensed by the incident that he refused to appear on a 1980 edition of This Is Your Life, which featured his former acting partner.
'It's this actor's ego thing: he thinks he is important,' Bewes once said of his former friend. 'Actors aren't important. I'm not important; I have fun. I think Jimmy takes himself very seriously as an actor.' In one of his last interviews, Bewes told the Daily Mirra: 'I would love to be friends with [Bolam], but he doesn't want to be friends with me. I can't be like Jimmy, I can't be that angry - we're different animals.' In 2010, Bewes also complained about his former co-star's very public refusal to allow The Likely Lads and Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? to be repeated on network television (their 1964 contract stated that both must give approval), preventing him earning anything from any potential repeats; 'he must be very wealthy; me, I've just got an overdraft and a mortgage.' Whilst Bolam - who, ironically, had spent the period immediately post-Likely Lads struggling against typecasting whilst Rodney was enjoying great success in Albert! - went on to star in the BBC drama When The Boat Comes In, as well as the comedy Only When I Laugh and, more recently, New Tricks, Bewes' career, on the other hand, never again scaled the heights of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?
Rodney pursued his own cheerful and idiosyncratic path through stage farces and one-man shows, which he wrote himself or adapted from writers like Jerome K Jerome and George and Weedon Grossmith. There were bit parts in films like Jabberwocky and The Wildcats of St Trinians, TV roles in Just Liz, Spender and Heartbeat and he was able to use his abilities as a serious actor in a 1980 adaptation of the Restoration play, 'Tis Pity She's A Whore. Earlier in his career he had appeared in productions of She Stoops To Conquer and there was a role in a 1984 production of George Gascoigne's play Big In Brazil at the Old Vic in London, with Prunella Scales and Timothy West. In the same year he appeared in the Doctor Who story Resurrection Of The Daleks manfully trying - along with the rest of the cast - to make some sense of Eric Saward's vastly over-complicated script. His character's final line before a selfless suicide to save Peter Davison's Doctor's life, 'I can't stand the confusion in my mind,' rather summed up a story that had much going for it but, rather, fell between several stools. It was to be one of his last significant appearances on the small screen.
Rodney had some stage success with his one-man shows, Three Men In A Boat and Diary Of A Nobody, which he toured for more than a decade. He won a Stella Artois Prize for the former at the 1997 Edinburgh Festival. In 2015 he gave an autobiographical show there, An Audience with Rodney Bewes ... Who? His amiable, though occasionally forthright, autobiography, A Likely Story, was published in 2005.
His second wife, the designer Daphne Black, acted as his helper, setting up the stage and the props for his various performances. Rodney never gave up on the idea of a revival of The Likely Lads, feeling that the characters of Bob and Terry were still relevant even forty years on. Interestingly, Clement and La Frenias also had ideas for a third dip into the pairs' lives in the 1990s. 'Bob would have probably lost his job and gone bankrupt,' suggested La Frenais. 'Terry, who'd gone though life without much ambition, would have no doubt received two hundred thousand pounds for an unspecified injury received in a drunk-driving accident. And Bob would just keep saying "Terribly unfair! So terribly unfair!"' It would probably have been every bit as brilliant as the two previous series but Bolam wasn't interested and so the writers instead used some of the ideas in the later series of another one of their North East-based hits, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. 'Instead of being the Likely Lads, we'd have been the Unlikeliest Granddads,' Rodney suggested. 'We would have been sitting on a park bench in a pair of grubby grey anoraks, feeding the pigeons and grumbling about youngsters.' In 2002, he appeared in a non-speaking, but very funny, cameo in Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly's A Tribute To The Likely Lads, a 'cover version' of the No Hiding Place episode which, whilst not entirely devoid of charm, wasn't a patch on the original. Asked why he did not try more serious acting, Rodney was apt to quote a pub landlord admirer who told him, after Rodney appeared in a serious TV classic - probably 1982's BBC Play Of The Month adaptation of Sheridan's The Critic - that he had switched channels because it was 'very wordy.' Rodney became the subject of an unlikely running joke on an episode of Qi in 2010 when the similarity between him and a character in a painting depicting the death of Leonardo Di Vinci led Alan Davies to suggest that Rodney had, in fact, invented a time machine and was going back through history murdering geniuses for some unknown, but probably nefarious, reason. Although Rodney's reaction to this is unrecorded, one imagines he would have very much enjoyed the joke. His final TV appearance was, of all things, in a 2012 episode of MasterChef. His first marriage, to Nina Tebbitt, ended in divorce and in 1973 he married Daphne, an artist and textile designer. She died in 2015. He is survived by their four children, a daughter, Daisy, and triplets, Joe, Tom and Billy.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fishy Doings

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has spoken about the relationship between Peter Capaldi's Doctor and David Bradley's in the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas episode. In a behind-the-scenes documentary called The Finale Falls (a DVD extra on the complete Doctor Who series ten box-set), the departing showrunner reveals more about the pair's meeting. Indeed, it seems the first Doctor (played by Bradley in place of the late William Hartnell, who was unavailable) is 'distinctly unimpressed' by his future self. 'David Bradley is such a good swap for William Hartnell,' Moffat told Radio Times. 'He looks so like him and can so capture that part. We could actually have, in effect, William Hartnell returning to Doctor Who – and witness to his great horror what he has become.' Bradley added: 'The first Doctor meeting the current Doctor – it's just so way out there! And I'm glad Steven Moffat thought of it, and wrote such a brilliant story. But it's something I would never have imagined.'
David Bradley has given his backing to the show's newest Time Lord, Jodie Whittaker. The pair previously shared the screen in ITV's Broadchurch, written by new Doctor Who showrunner That There Chris Chibnall, in which Bradley played the tragic Jack Marshall and Whittaker appeared as Beth Latimer. 'I think she'll be fantastic,' Bradley told Doctor Who Magazine. '[She has] all the emotional range you could want, and she's going to be very funny as well. So she's perfect for the Doctor, really.' Bradley also called Chibnall a 'wonderful' choice to replace The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE): 'His scripts are so rich and fascinating. Well-drawn, forceful characters. As an actor, working with Chris, you feel you're in very good hands. As you do with Steven. We're all in it together on Doctor Who and everybody wants it to be good. I think Chris will be amazing. Doctor Who's future is in safe hands.'
This Christmas will see the Doctor Who Christmas episode shown in cinemas around Australia on Boxing Day. BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand and Sharmill Films are giving Doctor Who fans 'a special gift this Christmas,' according to a rather gushing press release, with 'an event screening' of this year's Christmas Special. Or, in other words, a screening. The finale to the Peter Capaldi era of Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time, will be coming to Australian cinemas on Boxing Day, featuring the return of Pearl Mackie and special guests Mark Gatiss and David Bradley. The event will also introduce the new Doctor, played by yer actual Jodie Whittaker, 'who is the first woman to take on the role.' You knew that, right? The cinema event will also feature two exclusive bonus pieces, taking audiences behind the scenes to the filming of this holiday special and celebrating the tenures of yer actual Peter Capaldi and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE).
It appears as though it's not just yer actual Peter Capaldi and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) who are leaving Doctor Who after this year's Christmas episode - it has been claimed, albeit not by an organ of the media that you would automatically trust without seeking a second source - that composer Murray Gold is also leaving. Murray has worked on the long-running BBC family SF drama since joining as musical director for its revival in 2005. You will have heard his music in every episode up to and including next month's Twice Upon A Time. That ever-reliable source of truthful and accurate reportage, the Daily Mirra - the newspaper which claimed, quite wrongly, in April of this year that Kris Marshall had been cast as the next Doctor - reports that after twelve years, Murray 'has decided to step away.' Throughout his career, the composer also worked on Queer As Folk, Shameless, Last Tango In Halifax and The Musketeers, among others. Murray also collaborated with Russell Davies on the 2005 serial Casanova (starring David Tennant) and The Second Coming (starring Christopher Eccleston). He has been nominated for a BAFTA five times in the Best Original Television Music category, for Vanity Fair (1999), Queer As Folk (2000), Casanova (2006) and twice for Doctor Who (2009 and 2014). Murray wrote the theme tunes for spin-offs Sarah Jane Interferes and Torchwood. He also orchestrated three special live concerts featuring the music from the main series, which included at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC's Doctor Who Prom in 2008 and 2010.
Meanwhile, the BBC has released a preview for Twice Upon A Time and, lo, it is wondrous in Keith Telly Topping's sight: 'Technically, that is your TARDIS, parked about seventy feet that way. Always remember where you parked, it's going to come up a lot!'
This blogger was both surprised and delighted on Friday that he actually got all four lines of one of the walls on Only Connect - not only the answers but, also, the connections. That almost never happens!
Children In Need raised a record-breaking fifty million smackers during Friday's telethon, which featured a Blue Peter Strictly Come Dancing 'special'. The five-hour programme also included a Weakest Link celebrity special, a singing EastEnders cast and there a'fore mentioned teaser for the Doctor Who Christmas episode. Tess Daly, Graham Norton, Mel Giedroyc and Ade Adepitan presented the show, which was broadcast on BBC1 and BBC2. The total raised surpassed 2016's previous on-the-night record of forty six million knicker. During the evening, Car Share co-stars Peter Kay and Sian Gibson announced that the comedy series would return in 2018 with two new episodes. Anne Robinson presided over the Weakest Link segment with John Thomson, Z-List Celebrity Love Island winner Kem Cetinay (no, me neither) and actress Chizzy Akudolu - the eventual winner - facing her questions. EastEnders fans saw their favourite characters sing popular numbers from West End musicals early in the show. The cast of Countryfile also had a go at their own medley, opting for hit country tunes from John Denver, Dolly Parton and Nancy Sinatra. There was also music from Rita Ora, The Vamps and Jason Derulo, while Joanna Lumley presented the Sir Terry Wogan Fundraiser of the Year award to people who 'go above and beyond to raise money.' As usual, much of it was virtual unwatchable and, at times, embarrassingly squirm-inducing. But, it was for a number of good causes.

Comedy highlight of week two of the new series of MasterChef: The Professionals was, undoubtedly, the lad - a 'professional', remember - who thought that making a cod omelette was a good idea and would get a good review from Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti. 'Jordan has made a cod's cheek omelette, with chilli and spinach topped with chives,' said Sean Pertwee in his trademark pure-dead-serious voice. But, even Sean couldn't make this plate sound any more appetising as the camera lingered on a rather sad and sorry-looking eggy mess.
'I've never had a cod omelette before' said sour-faced Monica with a look on her mush (far more sour than usual, let it be noted) which suggested there was, perhaps, a very good reason for that. When even Gregg Wallace refuses to put something food-related in his mouth, you know you're probably not going to make it through to the next round.
'Sex, freedom, whisky sours, which one should I give up first?' Peaky Blinders returned for the start of its fourth series with a brilliantly complex episode that featured a quartet of last-minute gallows reprieves - which was, according to the Gruniad's Sarah Hughes 'both utterly ludicrous and entirely enjoyable (I was particularly taken with the fact that Tommy squeezed in a quick request for an OBE whilst bargaining for his family's lives) - and the arrival in the Shelby clan's life or some extremely cross Mafia-types. Gosh, it was good. Even the Torygraph liked it.
Peaky Blinderrs gave its theme song a remix for Wednesday's series four premiere. The BBC crime drama has traditionally opened with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' haunting 1994 masterpiece 'Red Right Hand', but you might have heard something a bit different this week. Helen McCrory revealed on The ONE Show on Tuesday that creator Steven Knight and his team have enlisted two music legends to cover 'Red Right Hand'. 'Every year, [the producers] look out for different singers and who's going to do the cover music,' she told Alex Jones. 'One of the 'Red Right Hand' covers will be from the duet of Iggy Pop and Jarvis Cocker.' Knight previously enlisted PJ Harvey to cover 'Red Right Hand' for its second series and Arctic Monkeys have famously performed the song in the past as well. This new theme tune comes with the addition of even more international stars, including Oscar winner Adrien Brody and Game of Thrones star Aidan Gillen.
There was a rather strange - untypical, rather than odd - episode of NCIS broadcast in the US this week.
And, a potentially series-changing episode of The Blacklist, reviewed here and here.
Fans of NCIS had their hearts well and truly broken when one of its longest-running leads, Pauley Perrette, announced last month that she would be leaving the popular crime drama at the end of the current series. Pauley, who has played Abby Sciuto since the series' premiere back in 2003, said that the decision was made 'last year' but didn't go into any details. However, the actress is clearly incandescent with rage and righteous fury at widespread Interweb rumours surrounding her the reasons for departure from the show. Thus, whilst we're no closer to discovering why Perrette is bidding farewell to NCIS, we do know - via her Twitter account - that it has 'absolutely nothing' whatsoever to do with skincare or make-up.
The Lord Of The Rings is being brought to the small screen in a TV adaptation by Amazon. The new series will tell stories based on what happened prior to The Fellowship Of The Ring - the first part of JRR Tolkien's trilogy. Amazon is planning 'several series' of the show, plus a possible spin-off according to reports. Director Peter Jackson's film adaptation of the trilogy - which won a combined seventeen Oscars - made nearly six billion smackers at the box office. Sharon Tal Ygyando, head of scripted series for Amazon, said: 'The Lord Of The Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen.' She went on to say that the streaming site was 'thrilled' to be taking fans 'on a new epic journey in Middle-Earth.' Amazon has yet to reveal a release date or who might feature in the TV adaptation.
The next series of The X-Files will return to Channel Five next year in the UK. The upcoming eleventh series is due to begin in the US in early January, although a UK broadcast date is yet to be confirmed. Channel Five showed the revival season last year in Britain and it was a good gamble, as it became the highest-rated drama in the channel's history. 'We're thrilled to confirm the return of The X-Files on Channel Five in 2018,' said Katie Keenan, Vice President of Acquisitions on Channel Five and VIMN UK. 'The last series was a huge success with a legion of new fans enjoying this iconic and contemporised series.' Is contemporised an actual word? Anyway, the new series will see David Duchovny and From The North favourite Gillian Anderson return as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who will be scouring the country for their long-lost son, William. 'We start the season right up from where the finale left off with that big helicopter and take you right from there,' former FOX boss David Madden said of the new series. 'You'll be launched into a very urgent adventure that has a lot to do with William – Mulder and Scully's kid. So, the search for William will be a significant thread through the show. You will see The Cigarette Smoking Man. You may see The Lone Gunmen somewhere along the line. There will be other characters from the previous mythology that will be reprised.' It is also expected to be the last outing for Gillian as Scully, who revealed she will be retiring the character at the end of this series.
David Lynch has appeared to shut down rumours of a fourth series of Twin Peaks occurring any time soon, if at all. The show's co-creator Mark Frost recently spoke to the Digital Spy website about his book on the series, The Final Dossier, which cleared up some questions fans had after that third series finale. As well as revealing the fate of Laura Palmer and Annie Blackburn, Frost's book also shed some light on what exactly was up with Audrey Horne during Twin Peaks: The Return. Although resolving these mysteries suggests the series could well have come to an end, Frost also said that the book 'doesn't close off' a fourth series. But, while Frost has said that he is 'undecided' about a fourth series, Lynch apparently has other ideas. Appearing at the Camerimage Film Festival screening of the first two episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return on Tuesday, the director spoke about the prospect of a fourth series. As Variety reports, his exact words to the question of any potential series four were: 'There's nothing to talk about.'
Here are the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Eight programmes broadcast in the UK during the week-ending Sunday 12 November 2017:-
1 Blue Planet II - Sun BBC1 - 13.45m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.74m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.17m
4 Howards End - Sun BBC1 - 7.53m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.03m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.94m
7 Doc Martin - Wed ITV - 6.81m
8 The Apprentice - Wed BBC1 - 6.76m
9 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.74m
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.98m
11 The Royal British Legion Festival Of Remembrance - Sat BBC1 - 5.56m
12 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.45m
13 The X-Factor - Sat ITV - 5.39m
14 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.36m
15 England Friendlies: Germany Versus England - Fri ITV - 5.09m
16 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.04m
17 Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs - Thurs ITV - 4.72m
18 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.56m
19 The Mirra Pride Of Britain Awards - Tues ITV - 4.34m
20 The A Word - Tues BBC1 - 4.33m
21 Police Tapes - Tues ITV - 4.07m
22 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Wed BBC1 - 4.04m
23 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.03m
24 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.00m
25= The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.85m
25= Prince Harry & Meghan: Truly, Madly, Deeply - Mon ITV - 3.85m
27 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 3.78m
28 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 3.64m
These consolidated figures - published weekly by those smashing people at the British Audience Research Bureau - include all viewers who watched programmes live and on various forms of catch-up TV and video-on-demand during the seven days after initial broadcast. They do not, however, include those who watched programmes on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. Which is shame but, there you go. What can yer actual Keith Telly Topping do about it, dear blog reader? He's just one man. The return of Sir David Attenborough to BBC1 continues to dominate all before it with the third episode of Blue Planet II achieving the series' third consecutive audience of over thirteen million. The Sunday night Strictly Come Dancing results episode had a consolidated audience of 11.46 million punters. Given that the ratings for pretty much every episode of this year's competition have been, at the very least marginally, up on the equivalent episodes from 2016, with each passing week that exceptionally daft woman at the Gruniad Morning Star who claimed - before even a single episode had been broadcast - that Strictly Come Dancing was 'in a fight for its survival' looks more like a complete and utter plank. As with virtually everything else that appears in the Gruniad Morning Star, frankly. The X-Factor, on the other hand, probably now is 'in a fight for its survival.' Particularly as it drew an astonishingly low total of but 4.91 million viewers for its Sunday results episode. An improvement of last week's series low of 4.55 million but, still, really not the sort of figure that, one imagines, either Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads or ITV (or, more specifically, their advertisers) would consider to be an acceptable audience. Oh well, them's the breaks. The return of MasterChef: The Professionals topped BBC2's weekly list, with the three nightly episodes attracting audiences of 3.32 million (Tuesday), 3.04 million (Thursday) and 2.91 million (Wednesday). University Challenge was the only programme to break the MasterChef: The Professionals stranglehold on the BBC2 charts, with 2.99 million punters. Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two drew 2.52 million. Motherland: A Genetic Journey had 2.33 million, Nigella (She Has Her Knockers): At My Table, 2.30 million, Rugby Union coverage, 2.24 million and Rick Stein's Road To Mexico, 2.22 million. The Apprentice - You're Fired! was watched by 1.84 million, Only Connect by 1.73 million, Elizabeth I's Secret Agents by 1.71 million, Mastermind, by 1.45 million, Coastal Path, by 1.44 million and Dad's Army!, by 1.42 million. Qi was viewed by 1.20 million. Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast, now that The Great British Bake Off, had finished, was for Gogglebox. The Secret Life Of Four Year Olds (2.43 million) and Nine-Nine-Nine: What's Your Emergency? (2.11 million) came thereafter. Travel Man: Forty Eight Hours In Stockholm had 1.97 million viewers, The Truth About Slim People, 1.87 million, Grand Designs: House Of The Year, 1.77 million, First Dates, 1.68 million, The Last Leg With Adam Hills, 1.67 million, Trump: An American Dream and Ugly House To Lovely House With George Clarke, both 1.66 million, the movie Terminator: Genisys, 1.60 million and F1: Brazilian Grand Prix Highlights, 1.37 million. The Queens Favourite Animals was seen by nine hundred and seventy thousand punters and Angry, White & American by nine hundred and thirteen thousand. Channel Five's top performer was The Yorkshire Vet, with an audience of 1.88 million. Rich House, Poor House, Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild, Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways Journeys and Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away rounded-off Five's most-watched list with audiences of 1.66 million, 1.53 million, 1.39 million and 1.25 million. Due to the international break, there was no Premier League action for Sky Sports Premier League to cover. Thus, its highest rated broadcast was for Gillette Soccer Saturday, with Jeff, Champagne Charlie, Big-nosed Thommo, Thick-as-two-short-planks Merse, Nice Guy Tiss and Mad-as-a-box-of-angry-cats Kammy trying - and failing - to get regular viewers all excited bigging-up League One clashes between the likes of Doncaster and Rotherham and Gillingham and Bury. Yeah, good luck with that, lads. And yet, ninety five thousand punters tuned-in on SS PL, with a further one hundred and thirty two thousand on Sky Sports News and one hundred and three thousand on Sky Sports Football. Well down on an average week, obviously, but still pretty impressive considering what they had to work with! Two Premier League Channel staples which usually don't get much of a mention on this blog during the ratings round-up since they're not normally in the channel's top ten list - Soccer AM and The Sunday Supplement - were watched by forty six thousand and forty thousand respectively. The World Cup Qualification Play-Off second leg between Switzerland and Northern Ireland was watched by two hundred and eighteen thousand on Sky Sports Football and three hundred and seventy thousand on Sky Sports Main Event whilst Wimbledon versus Peterborough had one hundred and eighty four thousand and the a'fore mentioned big Yorkshire derby, Doncaster against Rotherham was seen by one hundred and seventy thousand. The first leg of Denmark versus the Republic of Ireland had one hundred and forty one thousand and Scotland's friendly with The Netherlands drew one hundred and ten thousand. Unlike Scotland themselves, who lost. On Sky Sports Main Event, Northern Ireland's first leg against Switzerland - the one with the dodgy penalty - had five hundred thousand viewer whilst coverage of the England against Argentina Rugby Union test attracted three hundred and thirty seven thousand. Sky Sports Cricket's highest audience of the week was live coverage of India Versus New Zealand with twenty four thousand. Not unusually, let it be noted, Sky Sports F1 didn't post any figures for this particular week, and thus this blogger is unable to tell dear blog readers how many punters were glued to the Brazilian Grand Prix. Live WWE Late Night Raw attracted seventy thousand viewers on Sky Sports Arena. Live Grand Slam Of Darts had fifty seven thousand on Sky Sports Mix whilst Live NFL Redzone was seen by fifty four thousand and the World Cup Qualifier between Croatia and Greece by fifty thousand. Sky 1's weekly top-ten was headed by The Flash with nine hundred and thirty four thousand viewers and Modern Family, watched by nine hundred and seventeen thousand. The return of Strike Back for a new series attracted eight hundred and twenty two thousand whilst the third episode of Marvel's Inhumans had eight hundred and sixteen thousand. Rancid stream of festering spew Bounty Hunters, featuring tat odious, unfunny lanky streak of worthless piss Jack Whitehall, shed around a quarter of its first episode audience (eight hundred and fourteen thousand), the second being watched by six hundred and ninety eight thousand punters - every single one of whom, nevertheless, needs a damned good talking-to, frankly. Plus a brain scan for any remote signs of common sense, dignity or self-worth. For shame, people of Great Britain, for shame. Another man who, seemingly, believes his own hype, the host of The Russell Howard Hour, was viewed by six hundred and eighty six thousand. Still, at least DC's Legends Of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Arrow all featured in the channel's top ten whilst the final of Sing: Ultimate A Cappella did not. So, it would appear that the British viewing public does, sometimes, recognise a stinking, rotten turd when they are presented with one. Sky Arts' Landscape Artist Of The Year was seen by two hundred and three thousand viewers. Elvis: The Final Hours drew sixty one thousand punters and The Beach Boys: Live At Knebworth, forty one thousand. That particular weekend in 1980 when Brian Wilson and the boys played a field in Hertfordshire, this blogger was actually in another field, at Loch Lomand, to see The Jam headline the first day of a different rock and/or roll festival. It was a horrible, dank and rainy day which left the majority of the crowd soaked through to their vests and rather ill-tempered. Despite the presence of some really good support bands - The Chords, The Only Ones and The Regents among them - most people were, frankly, in a foul mood for most of the day. That was, until Stiff Little Fingers hit the stage in the late-afternoon and Jake Burns said, cheekily, 'Hello, Knebworth! We're The Beach Boys!' At which point, everybody cheered and the sun came out for the first time all day. True story. And then, The Jam played a properly storming set to send everybody home happy. Pop music, dear blog reader, is there anything it can't achieve? Anyway, back to the telly. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by Last Week Tonight With John Oliver with two hundred and six thousand. The Tin Star finale had one hundred and forty eight thousand, the latest Game Of Thrones repeat, one hundred and forty two thousand, The Deuce, one hundred and forty one thousand and Band Of Brothers, one hundred and three thousand. On Sky Living, The Good Doctor drew by 1.01 million whilst Criminal Minds, had nine hundred and thirty six thousand. Blindspot attracted six hundred and twenty eight thousand and Grey's Anatomy, five hundred and fifty thousand. T2: Trainspotting was watched by forty seven thousand people who, you know, chose life on Sky Cinema Select. Mega-mega white thing. Assassins Creed was the big movie of Sky Cinema Premiere, seen by three hundred and seventy nine thousand. Almost Christmas drew two hundred and six thousand. On 11 November! Come on, Sky, that's taking the piss! Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (nine hundred and fifty two thousand viewers). Foyle's War was seen by five hundred and sixty eight thousand, Agatha Christie's Marple by four hundred and eighty seven thousand and Lewis by three hundred and eighty six thousand. Coverage of Snooker Champion Of Champions was seen by five hundred and four thousand people with nothing better to do with their lives on ITV4. No, this blogger has no idea why either. ITV2's top-ten was headed by full-of-its-own-importance bucket of horrifying phlegm, Z-List Celebrity Juice, seen by 1.36 million sad, crushed victims of society. Family Guy had nine hundred and sixty six thousand. The movies Happy Feet Two and Quantum Of Solace attracted seven hundred and five thousand and six hundred and ninety four thousand, respectively. The Frankenstein Chronicles topped ITV Encore's top ten with seventy five thousand viewers, followed by Vera (seventy three thousand). Shallow and appalling tripe The Real Housewives Of Cheshire, was viewed by six hundred and eleven thousand of exactly the sort of specimens who enjoy such risible and ugly exercises in z-list-celebrity-by-non-entity on ITVBe. Similarly wretched conceit, Botched was seen by one hundred and eighty thousand. Broken Britain in a sentence, dear blog reader. BBC4's top-ten was headed by the start of a new series of the excellent Detectorists (a superb 1.69 million) and Empire Of The Tsars: Romanov Russia With Lucy Worsley (seven hundred and one thousand. A repeat of the latter two days latter pulled in an additional six hundred thousand. The Mekong River With Sue Perkins had six hundred and forty seven thousand. Russia's Lost Princesses drew six hundred and forty six thousand, Top Of The Pops 1984, five hundred and twenty two thousand and The League Of Gentlemen, four hundred and sixty four thousand. 5USA's latest Chicago PD episode was viewed by seven hundred and nine thousand punters, NCIS: Los Angeles by five hundred and twenty two thousand, Bull by three hundred and eighty six thousand, Castle by three hundred and fifty nine thousand and Longmire by two hundred and fifty four thousand. On Five Star, Home & Away scored four hundred and sixty two thousand. The A-Team had two hundred and seventy one thousand on the newly renamed Five-Spike. NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS were the most-watched broadcasts on CBS Action (one hundred and thirty nine thousand and one hundred and eleven thousand respectively). Judge Judy attracted seventy eight thousand on CBS Drama. For FOX's sake, The Walking Dead's latest episode was watched by a whopping 1.56 million. The Gifted had four hundred and ninety six thousand, American Horror Story: Cult, three hundred and seventeen thousand, Family Guy, two hundred and forty seven thousand and Lucifer, two hundred and twenty seven thousand. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit continued its, seemingly endless, repeat run on the Universal Channel with two hundred and thirty six thousand viewers. On Dave, the fifth smeggin' episode of Red Dwarf XII give the channel another bumper audience, nine hundred and one thousand punters. From The North favourite Dave Gorman's Modern Life Is Goodish was watched by five hundred and seventeen thousand very discerning punters. On the other hand, laughless tripe Zapped had three hundred and sixteen thousand. Qi XL drew, two hundred and fifty five thousand and Would I Lie To You?, two hundred and forty seven thousand. Drama's really rather good Kiwi import, The Brokenwood Mysteries attracted five hundred and forty one thousand viewers and Death In Paradise, five hundred and twenty five thousand. Father Brown was seen by three hundred and ninety six thousand, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, by three hundred and eighty eight thousand and Inspector George Gently, by three hundred and fifty five thousand. Drama Channel staples, Father Brown (one hundred and four thousand) and Inspector George Gently (eighty six thousand) also appeared in the weekly top-ten of Alibi. Sony TV's list was headed by a particular favourite of this blogger, Hustle (twenty nine thousand). Yesterday's The Great War In Numbers drew one hundred and eighty seven thousand, whilst Blackadder Goes Forth attracted one hundred and eighty one thousand and Timewatch: WWI Aces Falling, one hundred and fifty six thousand. Your TV's Body Of Proof brought in eighty nine thousand and Bones, seventy nine thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was seen by four hundred and eight thousand viewers who, seemingly, enjoy watching large shouty men with large shouty beards shouting at the camera like a bunch of five year olds. Garage Rehab had two hundred and ten thousand, Alaskan Bush People, one hundred and ninety five thousand, Misfit Garage, one hundred and forty four thousand and Moonshiners, ninety five thousand. James May's Toy Stories had sixty two thousand and Wor Geet Canny Robson Green's Ultimate Catch fifty nine thousand. From The North fave Wheeler Dealers appeared in the weekly top tens of both Discovery Shed (twenty nine thousand) and Discovery Turbo (twenty eight thousand). Discovery History's The Russian Revolution In Colour headed the top ten with thirty one thousand thousand, the same number as watched Battlefields. Killer Tanks attracted twenty seven thousand. On Discovery Science, How It's Made was seen by forty eight thousand. Salvage Hunters on Quest was watched by four hundred and fifty four thousand whilst Wheeler Dealers was viewed by three hundred and fifty eight thousand and Railroad Australia by two hundred and sixty one thousand. Pick's Z Nation had an audience of three hundred and thousand. It's Me Or The Dog attracted one hundred and ninety six thousand and Ross Kemp: Extreme World, one hundred and ninety one thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by The Long Road Home and Inside North Korea. They were watched by one hundred and twenty five thousand and sixty three thousand respectively. Bugging Hitler's Army was viewed by fifty thousand punters, as were both Air Crash Investigation and Science Of Stupid. Probably not the same fifty thousand people watching all three, though because, let's face it, if they were that would probably be worthy of a programme in and of itself. National Geographic Wild's Africa's Predator Zones: Botswana was watched by forty one thousand. The History Channel's most-seen programmes were WW2 Treasure Hunters (one hundred and forty four thousand) and X Company (sixty two thousand). Ancient Aliens on the Military History channel was viewed by forty one thousand. Homicide: Hours To Kill, Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath, Crimes That Shook The Bugger Out Of Britain and After The First Forty Eight were Crime & Investigation's top-rated programmes with sixty six thousand, sixty four thousand, fifty four thousand and fifty two thousand blood-and-snots-lovers, respectively. From The North's current favourite afternoon distraction, Homicide Hunter drew twenty nine thousand. Murder By Numbers, Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall, Guilty Rich, Dead Silent and Deadly Women headed Investigation Discovery's list (ninety thousand, eighty three thousand, eighty two thousand, sixty five thousand and sixty five thousand respectively). GOLD's repeat Murder On The Blackpool Express had a spectacular 1.13 million punters. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for The Middle with three hundred and eighty thousand. This is what Americans think is funny, seemingly. Mind you, look at whom they elected President and then tell this blogger it's a country that doesn't do irony. On More4, Nine-Nine-Nine: On The Frontline was the highest-rated programme with three hundred and sixty three thousand. Micky Flanagan: Back In The Game had three hundred and two thousand and Vet On The Hill, three hundred and one thousand. E4's list was topped, as usual, by The Big Bang Theory 2.37 million, by an 'uge distance the largest multichannels audience of the week. Hollyoaks had 1.02 million. Two hundred and five thousand people - with, it would appear, nothing better to do with their time - decided they wished to be Keeping Up With The Kardashians on E! whilst Total Divas had sixty seven thousand. The latest episode of The Exorcist, headed Syfy's top-ten with two hundred and twelve thousand whilst a repeat run of Merlin was watched by one hundred and thirty seven thousand. The Horror Channel's weekly list was topped by Jeepers Creepers 2 (one hundred and fifty six thousand) and by several episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the most-watched attracting one hundred and fifty two thousand. The 1993 version of Journey To The Centre Of The Earth drew ninety eight thousand. Night Mail, Soldier Of Fortune, and episodes of The Human Jungle and Scotland Yard topped Talking Pictures list, with seventy eight thousand, seventy one thousand, fifty seven thousand and fifty five thousand respectively. Oceans was viewed by twenty six thousand on Eden. Alaska: The Last Frontier was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with seventy seven thousand. MasterChef Australia on W attracted two hundred and ninety one thousand punters. True Crime's Deadly Women was seen by sixty eight thousand viewers. Persistent Wife drew fifty six thousand, as did Crime Town USA. On True Entertainment, M*A*S*H, was watched by one hundred and thirty nine thousand punters. John Torode's Asia drew seventy nine thousand on Good Food. TLC's list was headed by Say Yes To The Dress (one hundred and seventeen thousand). Dalziel & Pascoe was watched by one hundred and twenty thousand on Home. Lancaster At War topped PBS America's weekly list with thirty eight thousand. Thirteen Hours That Saved Britain was seen by twenty two thousand. Shameful rank and pitiful toot Teen Mom 2 on MTV was viewed by two hundred and twenty six thousand planks whilst equally worthless Just Tattoo Us had two hundred and fourteen thousand. Most Haunted drew two hundred and sixty seven thousand on Really. For a channel with that particular name, they appear to show an awful lot of programmes about non-existent subjects. Wacky Races had one hundred and eight thousand viewers on Boomerang. Be Cool Scooby-Doo! attracted sixty eight thousand. Zoinks! On Cbeebies, Andy's Prehistoric Adventures was seen by four hundred and seventy seven thousand, Footy Pups by four hundred and seventy six thousand, Sarah & Duck by four hundred and sixty seven thousand and Tree Fu Tom by four hundred and forty five thousand. Alvinnn!!! & The Chipmunks had one hundred and fifty six thousand on the Pop Channel. On AMC, Mad Men was watched by five thousand. Hardcore Pawn drew one hundred and twenty thousand punters on Blaze. Britain's Next Top Model pulled in one hundred and sixty one thousand on Lifetime. The Marc Roberts Show was seen by thirty two thousand on Keep It Country. Goodnight Sweetheart drew fifty four thousand on Forces TV, as did The A-Team. Secret History: Return Of The Black Death attracted twenty eight thousand on London Live whilst the Dick Emery vehicle Ooh ... You Are Awful! had twenty thousand. Most of whom, hopefully, enjoyed the bit where you get a close-up of Cheryl Kennedy's bottom. Five of the most perfect seconds in cinema history, that. Meanwhile, one of the worst films ever made, Hijacked, drew one hundred and six thousand to the Movies 4 Men channel. Marry Me At Christmas was watched by one hundred and eighty eight thousand punters on Movies24. Again, just to repeat, on 10 November. It's going to be a long six weeks until the actual event, is it not? Bah, humbug.

The BBC is to publish detailed information about the many whinges it receives from viewers after Ofcom, the media regulator - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - demanded that the corporation become 'more transparent.' Under new rules the BBC will have to reveal the number of whinges it receives every fortnight, identify the shows that received more than one hundred whinges and explain the editorial issues raised by the whinges and whether these whinges were upheld. The move will offer an unprecedented insight into how audiences react to BBC content. But, it has prompted an angry response from the BBC, which initially fought against publishing the figures amid concerns that it would be expensive and time-consuming. The BBC is expected to publish the first wave of information about whinges under the new system within the next few days. ITV and Channel Four already disclose information about complaints every two weeks, but Ofcom only began regulating the BBC this year. At present, the BBC publishes the total number of whinges it has received every month, without identifying individual programmes. In September, a senior director at Ofcom wrote to the BBC after it expressed its opposition to the plans. Kevin Bakhurst, a director at Ofcom and previously a BBC News executive, wrote a strongly-worded letter to David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards at the BBC. He said: 'We continue to consider that the greater transparency we proposed is necessary to build and maintain public confidence in the operation of the BBC under the new framework and to provide public accountability. In our view, fortnightly publication is appropriate given the period within which complaints are made and most complaints are resolved by the BBC. We note that you say the BBC's systems are set up to support a monthly cycle, that the information should be put to the BBC board prior to publication and that a fortnightly cycle would bring increased resource implications to audience services, the press office and senior executives. However, we would not expect the resource costs to be significant since the information will be factual and we understand the BBC already monitors its complaints lists daily. We do not consider that the complaints data we have determined should be published is of such a nature as to require board-level sign off prior to publication.' An Ofcom spokesperson said of the matter: 'We have discussed with the BBC how it communicates TV and radio complaints with its audience in a regular, transparent manner.'
A TV producer and writer has claimed that she was 'groped' by 'a government official' during a visit to Downing Street. Daisy Goodwin, who created the ITV drama series Victoria, told the Radio Times that the man put his hand on her breast after a meeting to discuss a proposed TV show when David Cameron was Prime Minister. Goodwin said that she was 'cross' at the time, but did not report the incident. Downing Street claimed that it took such allegations seriously and officials would 'look into' a formal complaint, should one be made. Goodwin said that the official - whom she did not name - invited her into an office at Number 10 for the meeting. She said that she was 'surprised' when the man put his feet up on her chair and remarked that her sunglasses 'made me look like a Bond Girl.' She said that she tried to steer the conversation back onto professional matters, but added: 'At the end of the meeting we both stood up and the official, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast. I looked at the hand and then in my best Lady Bracknell voice said: "Are you actually touching my breast?" He dropped his hand and laughed nervously.' Goodwin said that she left Downing Street 'in a state of high dudgeon. I wasn't traumatised, I was cross. But, by the next day it had become an anecdote, "The Day I Was Groped In Number Ten,"' she claimed. Cameron, who was Prime Minister between 2010 and 2016 just in case you'd forgotten the fact, claimed that he was first made aware of this 'serious allegation' on Monday of this week. His spokesman claimed that he was 'alarmed, shocked and concerned,' and immediately informed the Cabinet Office. Goodwin said that recent revelations of alleged abuses had made her question whether she was wrong not to have made a formal complaint. 'Now, in the light of all the really shocking stories that have come out about abusive behaviour by men in power from Hollywood to Westminster, I wonder if my Keep Calm And Carry On philosophy, inherited from my parents, was correct? The answer is, I am not sure.' At Westminster, several Conservative and Labour MPs are currently being investigated over claims of sexual misconduct. On Goodwin's case, a Downing Street spokesperson said: 'Allegations such as this are taken very seriously. The Cabinet Office would look into any formal complaint, should one be made.' So, over to you, Daisy.
Convicted sex offender Rolf Harris has had one of twelve indecent assault convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal. Three judges in London ruled that the conviction in question was 'unsafe.' But, they dismissed applications by Harris to challenge the other eleven convictions. There will be no retrial on the one conviction quashed. The Australian-born TV presenter was very jailed in 2014 for twelve indecent assaults, relating to four girls between 1968 and 1986. He was jailed for five years and nine months and has since been released from that sentence. The overturned conviction related to an allegation that Harris indecently assaulted an eight-year-old girl in 1969 at an event in Portsmouth. Though Harris was not in court for the ruling, he said in a statement: 'I have said all along that I did not attend and had never attended the location in Portsmouth as this complainant alleged at my first trial. I was not believed and she was. I have served a nine-month prison sentence based on her word.' He thanked his legal team, led by Stephen Vullo QC, for 'finally' proving his innocence of the alleged crime which, he said, was 'backed up' by a 'fantasist' claiming to be the sole witness. The man claimed to have been on leave from the military when he saw Harris in Portsmouth, but Vullo's team proved that he had never served in the armed forces - he was, in fact, a lorry driver who had never left the UK. Harris claims that this information was in the hands of the police 'from day one' but was not given to his first legal team 'by mistake.' He added: 'I hope the press supply the facts to the public to let them decide if I am a monster or the subject of a frenzied witch-hunt which focused more on grabbing headlines than finding the truth.' Announcing their decision on Thursday, Lord Justice Treacy, Mrs Justice McGowan and the Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, refused to give Harris permission to appeal against the rest of the convictions. They ruled that 'stepping back and looking at the totality of the evidence' on those remaining counts, 'we find nothing that causes us to doubt the safety of those convictions.'
Scottish Labour's new leader Richard Leonard has said that the party's MSPs will consider suspension for his immediate predecessor Kezia Dugdale. Dugdale, still an MSP, has been revealed as a surprise contestant in ITV's 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) Leonard said that he was 'a bit disappointed' by her participation. However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he does not believe Dugdale should be suspended from the party over her appearance on the ghastly reality TV programme.
The trouble that the BBC got itself into on Wednesday morning, when both online and on-air it referred to tweets from a parody Zanu PF account, illustrate once again the dangers of using social media as a reporting resource. This can be especially true in fast-moving news situations, where news organisations may have few reporters directly on the ground. While many parody accounts on social media are used simply for humour, they can frequently be utilised for deliberate mischief. The South African mobile phone operator MTN has been targeted by parody accounts that look like the real thing but reply to customer services queries with unhelpful and rude answers. The JD Wetherspoon pub chain in the UK recently faced 'uproar' after a fake account announced there would be a ban on staff wearing Remembrance Day poppies. In the aftermath of any terrorist attack or mass shooting, fake accounts often spring up purporting to be witnesses claiming there is a 'second shooter' or 'second device.' Fake appeals for missing relatives or friends can generate thousands of retweets. Another tactic has been to try to smear people through disinformation. In 2015 the Spanish newspaper La Razón was forced to grovellingly apologise to Veerender Jubbal for putting his face on their front page as a suspected terrorist, after a photoshopped image of the Canadian was widely shared online with claims he had been involved in terror attacks in Paris. Political parties are also obvious targets for mischief-making. In 2016, South Africa's ANC was issued a statement saying 'we reject, with the contempt they deserve, the disturbing views as posted on the parody account' after someone mimicked their official account. The Zanu-PF parody account that has been making the news this week claims to be the 'only official handle' of Zimbabwe's ruling party and has been active on Twitter for more than six years. Twitter's terms and conditions say that parodies should always label themselves as such, which the Zanu-PF account does not. Parody accounts are not entitled to the Twitter verification mark, which is supposed to help users understand whether accounts are genuine or not. But this policy can create confusion with the inconsistent way it is applied. The official WikiLeaks account on Twitter is verified, for example, while Julian Assange's personal account remains without the blue mark. Twitter recently suspended its programme of awarding blue verified checkmarks to specific accounts after it verified Jason Kessler, organiser of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville where Heather Heyer was killed. The company stated that 'verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognise that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it.' With suspicions heightened after revelations about Russian disinformation activity on the web, it seems more important than ever for journalists not to take social media postings at face value.
A three-year-old boy is to switch on a town's Christmas lights after Love Island's Kady McDermott (no, me neither) was ditched from the role. Noah Bruce won a competition to turn on the lights in Welwyn Garden City alongside Father Christmas. McDermott was extremely dropped after some residents launched a petition demanding - demanding, please note - that she be removed and that organisers 'set a better example to our kids.' Noah won the role when his letter to Santa was judged the best. McDermott, who grew up in the town, had been chosen by the Welwyn Garden City Business Improvement District after it found her through the Brain Tumour Research charity, which she supports. But the petition gained more than a thousand signatures within two days of being set up and the reality TV-type person, from nearby Stevenage, said that she was bombarded with 'vile comments' after she was booked to appear. Welwyn Garden City BID said that it had not expected 'such a strong reaction' to the decision - and to something so utterly inconsequential as who would be flicking a switch - but, after jointly reviewing with McDermott the comments about her on its Facebook page, 'both parties made a decision that her attendance wasn't fitting for the audience' and her appearance was very cancelled.
A man is facing shoplifting charges after allegedly attempting to conceal multiple bags of shrimp from a store ... in his pants. Anibal Batista, Junior, forty nine, is facing felony retail theft charges for the incident. On 9 November, police were summoned to the Weis Markets store in Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania, for a suspect in custody for retail theft. Upon arrival, police learned that Batista had concealed multiple bags of shrimp down his pants and attempted to leave the store without paying for them.
A customer of Tennessee restaurateur Donald Crump said that she just wanted the owner to make her fries great again. But Crump ended up being arrested, accused of choking the woman after she complained about the cold fries - though Crump insists that he merely removed the woman for 'disrespecting his business.' Crump, founder of Crumpy's Hot Wings in Memphis, allegedly got into an argument with Rinesha Moore on Friday when she approached the counter to complain that her fries weren't 'smoking' as advertised. Moore told WREG that she placed the order over the phone and went to collect it forty five minutes later. 'It's usually smokin' but it wasn't smokin' this time, it was kinda dry so I said can I get some fresh fries,' Moore told the station. She said that when she confronted the sixty one-year-old restaurant owner about the supposedly cold food, Crump was 'nonchalant' and blamed her for being late to pick up her order. He then allegedly refused to refund her money. 'I was probably a little bit late but they told me twenty five-to-thirty five minutes over the phone and usually they don't have the food ready when I get there, so I gave them just a little extra time,' the customer claimed. Moore recalled shoving the food on the counter and the fries then dropped to the floor. Three witnesses told police they saw Moore throw the allegedly cold food on the floor before the argument escalated. 'He pushed me into the fishbowl and he did it with his two hands and he literally started choking and strangling me, like I barely could breathe,' Moore claimed to WREG. 'He said "Don't disrespect my store" as he was choking me.' She added: 'If I can't get any fresh food and you're not giving me my money back, what else could possibly be done and you're the manager.' Moore claimed that she went to the hospital on Sunday because she suffered 'painful injuries' from the incident. Though witnesses said they saw Crump choking the woman, Crump told WMC Action News that he merely grabbed her to remove her for 'disrespecting his business.' He also claimed that there was 'video evidence' to back up his side of the story, though he didn't immediately provide it because, he claimed, he had to consult his lawyer. Crump was very arrested by the fuzz and charged with aggravated assault.
A man caught, if you will, pleasuring himself in his van outside his mother-in-law's house on a porn site logged into her wi-fi, was given a suspended jail term. Trevor Hollins was using his partner's mobile phone after he had dropped her off at hospital. He was seen masturbating by a witness, who 'couldn't believe what he was seeing' and was so disturbed by it, he took pictures, called the police and showed them the footage, a court heard. Hollins, who later told police he had been 'feeling horny' and 'wanted some excitement,' struck in the middle of the day in the driver's seat of the van, on a public road in a built-up, residential area in Burnley, magistrates were told. The thirty seven-year-old extremely admitted to outraging public decency, in June. He had earlier been warned that all sentencing options would be open. The defendant received eighteen weeks in jail, suspended for twelve months, with a twenty five-day rehabilitation requirement and must pay eighty five knicker costs and a one hundred and fifteen smackers victim surcharge.
An Ohio lawmaker who routinely touted his Christian faith and anti-LGBT views has resigned after reportedly being caught having up-the-bottom sex with a man in his office. Wes Goodman, who was the Republican state legislator for Ohio, is married to a lady who is the assistant director of an annual anti-abortion rally known as March for Life. The right-wing legislator, who pushed 'family values' was, reportedly, 'witnessed having sex with a man' inside his office who was 'not employed by the legislator.' According to the Columbus Dispatch, the observer snitched Goodman up right good and proper to Ohio House Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe on Tuesday afternoon. Dittoe responded by, himself grassing Goodman up like a Copper's Nark to House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger who in turn met with Goodman. The thirty three-year-old, who has been branded 'the conscience of the conservative movement,' resigned for 'inappropriate conduct' shortly after the meeting took place. Goodman, whose Twitter biography describes him as 'Christian. American. Conservative. Republican. Husband to Beth1027,' has regularly claimed 'natural marriage' occurs between a man and a woman. 'Healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families are the source of Ohio's proud history and the key to Ohio's future greatness,' reads his campaign website which has now been taken offline.
Navy officials acknowledged that one of its air crews was responsible for skywriting a penis and testicles over a rural Northern Washington county. Local media began receiving reports of the phallic symbol above the skies in Okanogan County on Thursday afternoon. 'After it made the circles at the bottom, I knew what it was and started laughing,' Okanogan's Ramone Duran told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. 'It was pretty funny to see that. You don't expect to see something like that.' Officials at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island later confirmed that one of its aircraft was responsible, saying an an F/A-18 Growler flew in a pattern 'that left a condensed air trail resembling an obscene image to observers on the ground.' Although, to be fair, it's a bit harsh blaming the aircraft, as opposed to the person that was flying it at the time. 'The Officers and Sailors of the United States Navy are professionals, held to the highest standards, while serving our nation with pride around world,' Lieutenant Commander Leslie Hubbell, the base's media officer, said in a statement. 'The actions of this aircrew were wholly unacceptable and antithetical to Navy core values. We have grounded the aircrew and are conducting a thorough investigation and we will hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The Navy apologises for this irresponsible and immature act. The Navy apologises to anyone who was offended by this unacceptable action,' the statement continued. 'An investigation into this flight will be conducted and if appropriate, the aviator(s) responsible will be held accountable.' Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker, commander of Naval air forces, also weighed in on the matter. 'Naval aviation continually strives to foster an environment of dignity and respect,' he said in a statement. 'Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place in Naval aviation today. We will investigate this incident to get all the facts and act accordingly.'
A Virginia man, who was convicted on Wednesday of having sex with and abusing at least some of his eight Rottweiler dogs, has been sentenced to twenty months in The Big House for what Henrico Circuit Judge James Stephen Yoffy called 'absolutely despicable' acts. The man is only allowed to leave prison to go to work, reports said. Stephen Taylor reportedly admitted to a police officer that he had performed oral sex on one of the dogs. Judge Yoffy declared 'these acts were really despicable acts,' the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Taylor entered an Alford plea to a felony charge, which keeps him from legally admitting guilt but states that the evidence against him is sufficient for a conviction. However, he pleaded very guilty to misdemeanour animal cruelty in August, WTVR reported. Police said they found a total of one hundred and seventy one images of bestiality, which also included ten images that allegedly showed Taylor performing oral sex on one of the dogs, county attorney Nael Abouzaki said in court. 'I just don’t have any words,' Judge Yoffy said of the graphic nature of the case. 'This is disgusting,' he added. Initially, Taylor denied the allegations, called the charges 'lies' and claimed that the person in the photograph was not him but 'someone else.' However, he changed his story when he appeared in court before Judge Yoffy. Taylor's roommate Craig Knox had been arrested in 2016 after he was accused of taking part in a child sex ring that involved the alleged rape of a nine-year-old boy in 2010. Knox also admitted that he knew Taylor and that he was 'having sex with dogs.' The judge declared that Taylor should not have contact with animals and also ordered him to undergo a psychosexual evaluation. Taylor told the court that he was 'remorseful' about his acts in the past and had been 'going down a very wrong path.'
A man from Elkhorn has been arrested for repeatedly sending prostitutes to strip on his neighbours' front porch. According to the report from the Omaha-World Herald, the neighbours – a married couple with two children – 'felt afraid and captive' in their own home for nearly four years. About thirty times each year, women would show up on their front porch late at night or early in the morning. They would strip and then, seeking payment, would try to open the front door or ring the doorbell. The perpetrator has been identified as Douglas Goldsberry, a forty five year old man who lives across the street from the couple. The newspaper reports that Goldsberry hired prostitutes to 'bare their breasts' and strip on his neighbour's porch while he watched from his kitchen and masturbated.
A woman has been very jailed for three years for stealing her parents' life savings by running up debts on their credit cards while they were on holiday touring Europe. Melissa Humphreys, of Colchester, spent at least one hundred and thirty thousand knicker after her parents left her in charge of their finances. She extremely admitted fourteen charges of fraud, theft and obtaining property by deception. The judge at Chelmsford Crown Court said that her parents had been left 'living in virtual penury.' The court heard Terry and Elizabeth Fordham, now eighty and seventy respectively, had sold their house for two hundred and twenty five thousand quid in 2006, bought a motor home and put Humphreys in charge of their money to pay off any bills and debts whilst they were away. Matthew Bagnall, prosecuting counsel, said that the spending started in 2006 and lasted until 2010 when her parents were told their credit cards were at their limits and they realised 'something was up.' They abandoned their tour, had to borrow money to get back to Britain and were then repeatedly chased for their credit card debts. The prosecution argued that the fraud and theft amounted to one hundred and seventy nine thousand smackers, while the defence said it was 'nearer one hundred and thirty thousand.' So, that's all right, then. Judge Patricia Lynch said that there had been a 'prolonged, systematic fraud' and 'consequential emotional and financial distress' for her parents, who abandoned their plan to retire in France and were still living in their motor home. She added: 'All they are left with is worry, concern and the pain of what you've done to them.'
A woman has been jailed after duping film-makers into believing she could get them behind-the-scenes access to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign according to the Gruniad Morning Star. Ann Leuser fraudulently claimed to have 'a close connection' with the former US secretary of state and tried to enter into a contract for a fly-on-the-wall documentary that proposed a series of payments totalling one hundred and twenty thousand knicker. The fifty six-year-old, of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, even paid an actress five grand to impersonate Clinton's director of communications Jennifer Palmieri over the phone. During a period of ten months, Leuser sent fraudulent e-mails to a producer claiming to be from members of the Clinton campaign team. She received several all-expenses-paid trips to London and was flown to New York under the premise of getting an access letter signed. It had been agreed that if Leuser presented an access letter from the presidential candidate to the UK-based production team, she would be paid thirty thousand smackers immediately and would receive three further payments of thirty grand during the filming process. In October 2015, Leuser claimed that she had travelled to the Democratic party convention in Las Vegas, but had actually remained in New York for the entire trip and forged an access letter in an attempt to fulfil the contract. Someone from the production company then visited the Brooklyn headquarters of the Clinton campaign for a meeting in late 2015. It was found that there was no legitimate access letter, there had never been any negotiations with the Clinton campaign team and that Leuser was 'not known' to anyone there. The company reported her to the City of London police in February 2016. Accompanied by a Police Scotland officer, Leuser's property was searched in April 2016 when phone and receipts were seized detailing her contact with the documentary producer and team. No evidence was found of a friendship between Leuser and Clinton. During questioning, Leuser maintained she had a close connection with the presidential candidate and her campaign team but refused to comment further. Leuser was very jailed for forty four months at Inner London crown court on Friday for fraud by false representation.
World Cup qualifying has ended and we now know all thirty two teams who will compete at next summer's finals in Russia. From Europe, hosts Russia and group winners Belgium, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Serbia and Spain are joined by play-off victors Croatia, Denmark Sweden and Switzerland. Africa's representatives are Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. From North and Central America and the Caribbean, it is Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. South America's sides are Argentina - who only clinched their qualification thanks to a Lionel Messi-inspired victory over Ecuador in the final game, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay and the Asian qualifiers are Australia, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
The World Cup finals draw is on Friday 1 December at Moscow's State Kremlin Palace concert hall. Teams will be seeded based on the October 2017 FIFA world rankings. There are four pots - each containing eight teams. Russia will be joined in pot one by the seven highest-ranked teams, with the next eight in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four. No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of UEFA, will be drawn in the same group. A maximum of two European countries can be in any group. England will be seeded among the second batch of teams, which means they will definitely not play Spain, who are also among the second seeds, in the pool stage. A tough scenario would see them drawn in the same group as, for instance, five-time winners Brazil, seven-time Africa Cup of Nations champions Egypt and Serbia, the highest-ranked in pot four. An easier draw, on paper, would see them in a group with, for example, Poland, Iran and Panama.
     Defending champions Germany are the bookmakers' favourites, followed by Brazil, Spain, Argentina, France, Belgium and then England. Joachim Löw's Germany are bidding to become the first country to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Germany have not lost a World Cup finals or qualifying game since the 2010 semi-final against Spain. They came through 2018 qualifying with ten wins from ten - scoring forty three times and only conceding on four occasions. Belgium, Spain and England also came through European qualifying unbeaten. Albeit, in the case of the latter, often with some very uninspiring performances.
     Brazil cruised through South American qualifying - but only after replacing manager Dunga with Tite midway through the campaign. They had only won one of their opening six qualifiers, but under Tite they won ten and drew two of their final twelve games to finish ten points clear. In Asia, Iran came through two different groups unbeaten - eighteen games without defeat that included a run of twelve consecutive clean sheets. Morocco qualified without conceding a goal in their six-game African group, finishing top ahead of Côte d'Ivoire. Central American nation Panama reached their first World Cup thanks to an eighty eighth-minute winner against Costa Rica, which also eliminated the United States. President Juan Carlos Varela declared a national holiday following their qualification. Iceland are the only country with a population of under one million to have ever reached a World Cup. The Nordic nation had never qualified for a major tournament before Euro 2016, when they infamously beat England on their way to the quarter-finals.
     The biggest shock of the qualifying campaign came from Europe. Four-time winners Italy missed out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958, losing to Sweden in their play-off. The Swedes had reached the play-off on goal difference in their group ahead of the Netherlands, meaning the Dutch have failed to qualify for the past two major tournaments. The Czech Republic, Wales, Scotland, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey were among the other countries to miss out in the group stages - with the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Greece losing in the play-offs.
     In the CONCACAF region the United States finished below Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras as they failed to secure even a play-off berth. It is the first time since 1986 that the American will not compete at a World Cup. And, they are so pissed off about it they are reportedly threatening to hold their own competition. With blackjack. And hookers. Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon and Ghana - all of whom were in Brazil in 2014 - were among the African nations to miss out. Chile, ranked ninth in the world, went out in South American qualifying, missing out on a play-off on goal difference to Peru.

Premier League chairmen have voted unanimously - and unsurprisingly - in favour of a broadcast tender under which between one hundred and ninety and two hundred and ten games will be shown live on British television each season from 2019. The tender will go out to broadcasters before Christmas and will almost certainly make the world’s richest league even wealthier with a significant increase in the one hundred and sixty eight games now broadcast live each season. The Premier League had already guaranteed to Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, it would make at least one hundred and ninety games available in the next three-year deal, which runs from 2019 to 2022. It did not reveal whether chairmen had voted to support a configuration of packages that will see one hundred and ninety, two hundred, or two hundred and ten top-flight games screened live. The increase in live television matches will almost certainly be accommodated by a prime-time Saturday night match - which will be great news for travelling away supporters who will now be faced with getting home in the early hours of Sunday morning - alongside additional midweek and bank holiday games. Also guaranteed to caused maximum inconvenience to travelling supporters. But then, of course, as we all know the fans are the absolutely last people that football clubs and broadcasters are the slightest bit interested in when it comes to football coverage. The number of live Premier League games has rocketed from sixty each season between 1992 and 2001. The Football Supporters' Federation has voiced its concern about the effect the increase will have on the atmosphere inside stadiums and has pushed for Saturday 3pm kick-offs to be protected. Thursday's meeting in London was the first time all twenty clubs had been represented in the same room since the so-called 'big six' – The Arse, Moscow Chelski FC, Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, Stottingtot Hotshot, Sheikh Yer Man City and The Scum – were thwarted in their greed-based bid to secure a bigger share of overseas television rights. Got their greed right on, so they did. It was a sight to see, dear blog reader. The mood was said to be 'buoyant' with an 'optimism' the new domestic rights deal will mean an increase in the five billion smackers paid by Sky Sports and BT Sport two years ago for the 2016-19 rights.
Tim Gudgin, formerly the voice of BBC television's Saturday tea-time football results, has died aged eighty seven. Gudgin retired in 2011, a week before his eighty second birthday, to end a career spanning more than six decades. He had joined Grandstand in 1976, reading out the horse racing and rugby results until 1995, when he became the second person, after the legendary Len Martin, to read out the weekly football results in Final Score. During his time at the BBC, he also worked for Radio 2 and Radio 4. Tim, known for his distinctive rising and falling intonation, started his broadcasting career while on the National Service in Germany in 1949 at the age of twenty. He managed to beat two hundred other applicants to secure one of four newsreading jobs in Hamburg, before returning to the UK and joining the BBC in 1952 to became studio manager for BBC European Service. He also worked as a regular newsreader. When his manager moved to network radio, Gudgin joined him on a six-month attachment - and stayed for ten years. He worked as a freelancer presenting shows such as Housewives' Choice, Midday, Out & About, Saturday Night On The Light, Treble Chance, Today, Late Night Extra, Home This Afternoon, Top Of The Form, Listen On Saturday, Music Box, Family Favourites, Friday Night Is Music Night, Marching & Waltzing, Night Ride, Melody Hour and Swingalong. For three years in the mid-1970s Tim left broadcasting to work as a public relations consultant in the Isle of Man. In 1976, he returned to the BBC and Grandstand. When he retired, Gudgin said: 'It is a triple reason why I am going - age, distance - I am down on the south coast and the team is going to be up in Salford and my granddaughter's wedding in Australia, which I have to be there for.' Tim died peacefully at his home on 8 November, his family said.
Michael Davies, who played keyboards, audio generator and synthesizers in Hawkind from 1969 until 1973 and was credited on their records as DikMik, has died. 'We are very sad to let you know that our old friend and band mate DikMik passed away early this morning,' a spokesperson wrote on Hawkwind's Facebook page on Friday. 'He will be loved and remembered for his innovative contributions not only to Hawkwind, but to a whole musical genre of which he was an important pioneer.' The post also included a note from Hawkwind founder Dave Brock. 'I remember when DikMik joined the band, he bought himself an audio generator from Tottenham Court Road, got himself a Watkins Copycat echo unit, a fold-up card table, (complete with green baize) and became one of the innovators of electronic music! It was on DikMik's suggestion, and later persistence, that we got Lemmy to join the band and you know the rest! Goodbye old chap your legend lives on.' In 1969, Davies and saxophonist Nik Turner originally signed on as roadies for Hawkwind Zoo, the group that Brock had formed with guitarist Mick Slattery, bassist John Harrison and drummer Terry Ollis. But Mik's interest in the burgeoning genre of electronic music led to him being offered a slot before their first gig. By the time of their 1970 self-titled debut LP, Slattery had been replaced by Huw Lloyd Langton. A year later, Davies himself left the band following a car accident and was replaced by their sound engineer, Del Dettmar. But Mik returned in time for their second record, In Search of Space. According to legend, Davies was also trying to bring his roommate - and fellow speed-freak - into the band a second guitarist to little success. However, when bassist Dave Anderson didn't show up for a gig shortly afterwards, they gave Lemmy Kilmister, a shot on bass. Mik lasted two more LPs, 1972's astonishing Doremi Fasol Latido and their classic live record Space Ritual. But, Mik chose to stay in Rome after a show, which spelled the end of his time with the band. 'Things like that [members not turning up for a gig] used to happen all the time - different people would go away for a few weeks and nobody would think anything of it,' Brock said in 1973. 'But now, because we're more well known, you do anything like that and people start thinking, "ah-ha..."' A harbinger of future electronic-based music it would be fair to argue that DikMik was a pioneeer of not only industrial music like Throbbing Gristle but also much electronica from Aphex Twin and beyond. Check out he and Dettmar effectively inventing the genre on Space Ritual's 'Electronic Number One' and you're listening to Ground Zero for Underworld, Orbital, The Chemical Brothers et al.
One of this blogger's favourite actors, Keith Barron, has died aged eighty three after a short illness. Born in South Yorkshire in 1934, on leaving Mexborough Technical College, Keith went into the family warehousing business but had ambitions to act which were fuelled by childhood visits to local music halls. He gained experience with Mexborough theatre guild's amateur dramatics company alongside a future fellow thespian, Brian Blessed. After national service in the RAF, Keith joined the repertory company at Sheffield playhouse, making his debut as the porter in Ibsen's A Doll's House. While there, he met the stage designer Mary Pickard, whom he married in 1959. He became well-known to British television viewers in the early 1960s as the easy-going Sergeant John Swift in the Granada crime drama The Odd Man and its subsequent spin-off, It's Dark Outside.
His major breakthrough, however, was as Nigel Barton in Dennis Potter's pair of semi-autobiographical BBC plays Stand Up, Nigel Barton and Vote, Vote, Vote For Nigel Barton (both 1965). In those, Keith played a miner's son who breaks through the class barriers to study at Oxford University, becomes a journalist and hits the hustings as a Labour candidate in a by-election. Barron brought the appropriate 'angry' quality to his performance as the idealistic young man who becomes disillusioned with the charade of politics and eventually, in a seven-minute-speech, tells the audience at a civic event that all three parties have 'dead ideas, dead thoughts, dead slogans' and that campaigning is 'a humiliating experience.'
Keith worked several times with Potter, who once described him as 'my perfect actor.' For example, he later played a very similar character to Barton in Potter's memorable 1973 Play For Today, Only Make Believe. He also appeared in John Hopkins' controversial 1965 Wednesday Play, Fable and in a superb 1969 Out Of The Unknown adaptation of John Wyndham's Random Quest. One of those great, reliable character actors who seem to crop up in pretty much everything, Keith made many one-off television appearances in numerous well-remembered series including A Chance Of Thunder, The Night Of The Match, The Avengers, Crying Down The Lane, Redcap, Z-Cars, Crane, The Troubleshooters, No Hiding Place, Conflict, Out Of Town Theatre, The Jazz Age, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Spywatch, The Foundation, Strange Report, The New Avengers, The Professionals, Leap In The Dark, Tales Of The Unexpected, Holding The Fort, Minder, Ruth Rendell Mysteries and A Touch of Frost.
In 1967 he played the title role, Jim Dixon, in BBC2's The Further Adventures Of Lucky Jim, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais' adaptation of the Kingsley Amis comic novel set in the student world in London. He also appeared in Jackanory, A Family At War, Love Story, Clocking Off, Pickles: The Dog Who Won The World Cup, Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampyre, Stella, DCI Banks, Casualty, Late Expectations, The Good Guys, 1996, In The Red, NCS Manhunt, England Expects, Dead Man Weds, The Chase, New Tricks, Foyle's War, Hustle, My Family, Law & Order: UK and No Strings. He had a regular role in Coronation Street, playing George Trench.
He was the Narrator in West Country Tales and starred as Daniel Ford in Carla Lane's appallingly twee Leaving. In 1974 we made a memorable appearance in two episodes of Upstairs Downstairs as Gregory Wilmot, a love interest for Jean Marsh's Rose. He was Tim Hart in the BBC's Telford's Change alongside Peter Barkworth. That same year, 1979, he appeared in the ITV drama Prince Regent as Whig statesman Charles James Fox. In 1983, Keith was asked - at very short notice - to take on his only Doctor Who role, a really good one at that, as Captain Striker in the four-part Peter Davison story Enlightenment. The role was originally to be played by Peter Sallis, who had to drop out when industrial action delayed production. Keith gave what one reviewer described as 'a masterclass of understated menace.'
Keith was also a frequent voiceover artist for British TV commercials (for instance, Tetley Tea) and public information films and also presented the 1977 Yorkshire TV children's show Stepping Stones with Lis Sladen.
In 1989, he starred in Tony Marchant's acclaimed Take Me Home, a story of relationships in a Midlands town, with Annette Crosbie as his wife and Maggie O'Neill as his - much younger - girlfriend. Keith was probably best known for his starring role in three series of Duty Free, the 1980s Yorkshire TV sitcom written by Eric Chappell, in which he played David Pearce. He was also a regular in Room At The Bottom (1986 to 1988) and, in the 1990s, in further sitcoms Haggard and All Night Long. In the 2000s he was a regular character on the ITV Sunday-night drama Where the Heart Is.
His movies included the comedy She'll Follow You Anywhere, Baby Love (1968), Waris Hussain's Melody (1971), Nothing But The Night (1973), Voyage Of The Damned (1976) and the Hollywood adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot and At The Earth's Core. More recently he appeared in the 2013 BBC comedy-drama Being Eileen and as the deputy mayor in the popular ITV sitcom Benidorm. Keith also appeared as the guest celebrity in Dictionary Corner on several episodes of the Channel Four game show Countdown. A statement from his agent said that Keith had enjoyed 'a long and varied career, of which he was immensely proud. He is survived by his wife Mary to whom he was married for fifty eight years and his son, Jamie, also an actor.' In the early 1980s, with his wife as cook, son as head waiter and himself as front of hour greeter, they spent three years running their own restaurant - Fox's - in Hayle in Cornwall earning reports in the Michelin Good Food Guide, a lifestyle change which only came to an ended when he landed the role in Duty Free.