Friday, April 29, 2016

Diamonds & Pearl

Pearl Mackie has been named as the new Doctor Who companion alongside yer actual Peter Capaldi's Time Lord in the TARDIS. The Londoner's role, playing a character called Bill, was announced on BBC1 during half-time of the FA Cup semi-final match between The Everton Toffees and The Scum on Saturday (The Scum won, just in case you tuned-in at half-time to find out who the new companion was and switched over to Britain's Got Toilets).
Mackie, who is twenty eight, replaces Jenna Coleman, who left the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama at the end of last year. Filming for the next series will start shortly. Pearl, who graduated from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2010, played Anne-Marie Frasier in Doctors in 2014 and is currently performing in the National Theatre's West End production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time. 'I'm incredibly excited to be joining the Doctor Who family,' she said. 'It's such an extraordinary British institution, I couldn't be prouder to call the TARDIS my home.' She added: 'Peter Capaldi is such a brilliant actor, and his Doctor is such a wacky and wonderful character, I can't wait to see what adventures are in store for him and Bill throughout time and space.' Mackie said that her new character, was 'wicked' - which is an expression used by Young People meaning 'jolly good', apparently - describing her as 'cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in.' Bill got her first encounter with a Dalek in the new Doctor Who trailer which you can see here. It's rather decent, actually. Yer man Capaldi said: 'It is a genuine delight to welcome Pearl Mackie to Doctor Who. A fine, fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm, she's a refreshing addition to the TARDIS and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to The Doctor's adventures.'
Doctor Who's casting director Andy Pryor is already praising the 'fresh' chemistry between Peter Capaldi and new companion Pearl Mackie. Pryor revealed that Mackie won the coveted job over fifty other actors. 'There was a chemistry that felt fresh and new and different to Peter's relationship with Jenna,' Pryor said. 'You could see Peter fizzing with ideas in that audition reading and in the clip that was ultimately produced with the announcement.' He continued: 'What people saw in the announcement [short film] was one of the audition scenes originally. I think Pearl grabbed those scenes and did something really exciting with them.' Radio Times had an extensive article on the casting of yer actual Pearl which you can read here. And, there's also a rather amusing article about Peter going to see Pearl on stage and having to pretend he'd never met her as her casting had not, at that stage, been announced here.

Last year's Doctor Who episode Heaven Sent, has been nominated for a 2016 Hugo Award. The episode, written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and directed by Rachel Talalay, starred Peter Capaldi his very self in an highly acclaimed, near-solo performance. Doctor Who is competing against episodes from Universal's Grimm, Marvel Television's Jessica Jones, DHX Media's My Little Pony and Kripke Enterprises's Supernatural to win the prestigious award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). Six Doctor Who episodes have previously won a Hugo Award, including The Doctor's Wife, The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang and The Waters Of Mars. Last year the episode Listen was nominated, but lost out in the final voting. The winners of the 2016 Hugo will be announced on Saturday 20 August, at the MidAmeriCon II Hugo Awards Ceremony held in Kansas City.
Sherlock series four has recently started shooting - as reported previously on this blog - and now yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has been spotted filming on Lambeth Bridge outside the M15 HQ. It seems reasonable to assume, therefore, that Mycroft is somehow involved in the storyline. The first episode will pick up exactly where New Year's Day special The Abominable Bride left off, with Sherlock Holmes back on British soil to investigate the mysterious resurgence of the long-dead Moriarty.
Meanwhile, Martin Freeman will appear on this weeks The Graham Norton Show and gave fans an update on how series four is progressing, predicting that it will hit TV screens during the winter. Which we all kind of knew anyway. 'We are back filming now, and the three shows will - I imagine - be out around Christmas,' he said. Marty added that fans get a little too excited when they find their way onto the set. 'There is always a heightened state of excitement and we sometimes have to respectfully remind them that we have to be focused and it's not a live gig!'
James Holmes is taking a break from comedy to star alongside yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch in the new series of Sherlock. The will play 'a passenger' in the new series, according to his online CV. Holmes is best known for his role as Clive on the BBC comedy Miranda.

It is looking increasingly likely that Game Of Thrones will conclude up with two shortened seasons, at most. HBO officially renewed the massively popular fantasy drama for a seventh season on Thursday amid reports that producers are 'mulling' a shortened conclusion for the show. According to The Hollywood Reporter, producers David Benioff and DB Weiss estimated that they have between ten and fifteen hours of story left after the forthcoming sixth series. 'We're not walking away. We're approaching the finish line,' they said. 'From the outset, our hope was to tell a complete story - beginning, middle and end. We are writing the final act now and the last thing we want to do is stay on stage after the play is over.' Benioff and Weiss also discussed how Game Of Thrones is diverging from George RR Martin's book series, since his latest novel The Winds Of Winter is still being worked on by the writer. 'The show has diverged from the books quite dramatically by this point, but it's still George's world: The characters he's dreamed up in the world he created,' the producers said. Or, at least, one of them did. Unless they, you know, chanted it simultaneously. Which, let's face it, would have been just plain weird. 'At this point, given the fact that we're outpacing the novels, we all see the upside in the divergence: book readers won't be spoiled by what's to come on the show and the show audience won't have to worry about spoilers from the unpublished books. And we're very happy that the show has led so many people to discover George's amazing books.'
The season six première of Game of Thrones confirmed that Jon Snow is dead (at least for the moment, anyway), but it also drew record numbers of overnight viewers to Sky Atlantic. A massive 2.19 million punters tuned in to watch the episode on Monday. That's the biggest overnight audience that the channel has ever received. Interestingly, more people watched the 2am simulcast (1.38 million) than the 9pm broadcast (eight hundred and sixteen thousand). The overnight figure is expected to increase by around seventy per cent as it consolidates over the forthcoming week. It was reported that more than one million people around the world have already bootlegged the episode, the HBO epic continuing its unwanted reputation as the most pirated television show ever. TorrentFreak reported that the first day download locations come from all over the world, with the most popular in Australia (twelve per cent), India (ten per cent), the US and the UK.
Yer actual David Bowie - he was a popular beat combo of the 1970s, m'lud - liked Peaky Blinders so much that he was, apparently, keen to have his music featured on the BBC2 period crime series, its creator has claimed. According to writer Steven Knight, the late singer's 'people' had told him that Bowie 'was a big, big fan' of the drama. Knight said that he had been played a copy of Bowie's Blackstar CD shortly before the singer's death in January. 'It seems that his people were keen to establish that we could use it before he died,' he told the Radio Times. Knight said that he had learned of Bowie's interest in the show after the singer sent a photo of himself to the drama's lead actor. '[Bowie] sent a photo of himself with razor blades in his cap to Cillian [Murphy] about a year ago,' the writer disclosed. The drama takes its name from gang members who sewed razor blades into the peaks of their flat caps in 1920s Birmingham. The Bowie connection has come to light just as the third series of Peaky Blinders begins on BBC2. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg are also reported to be fans of the show, Radio Times reveals.
Having, in this blogger's opinion (as, you know, a licence fee payer!), survived by the skin of her teeth during the previous MasterChef semi-final episode, when the unlucky Jen was voted out of the competition, bossy-boots company director Liz became the second of the eight semi-finalists to leave this year's show. Gregg Wallace considered that Liz was 'struggling to keep up with where the others are going.' John Tordoe, seemingly, agreed. 'I made absolutely no secret about the fact that I was here to win,' Liz said as she left MasterChef HQ for the last time, with - not for the first time - some tears. 'And, to be honest with you I thought I had it in me. So, yeah, I'm massively, massively gutted and disappointed.' That's massively, massively. Massively-times-two, if you will. The final six, therefore, are Annie, Jane, Juanita, Jack, Billy and Stuart. This blogger's money is still on Juanita to win the title although Jack still looks like a decent outside bet (despite being cursed with looking uncannily like odious lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall, poor lad) and huggable mumsy Jane's last two or three dishes suggest she's worth keeping an eye-on, too.
Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes, for week-ending Sunday 17 April 2016 were as follows:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 11.93m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.00m
3 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.23m
4 Marcella - Mon ITV - 6.97m
5 The Durrells - Sun ITV - 6.80m
6 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 6.52m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.43m
8 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.67m
9 The A Word - Tues BBC1 - 5.44m
10 Michael McIntyre's Big Show - Sat BBC1 - 5.35m
11 Undercover - Sun BBC1 - 5.27m
12 Scott & Bailey - Wed ITV - 5.21m*
13 MasterChef - Thurs BBC1 - 5.19m
14 FA Cup Match Of The Day Live - Wed BBC1 - 5.13m
15 Home Fires - Sun ITV - 4.97m*
16 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.95m
17 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.90m
18= Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.82m
18= Line Of Duty - Thurs BBC2 - 4.82m
20 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.81m
21 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.71m
22 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.24m
23 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.18m
24 Bake Off Crème De La Crème - Tues BBC2 - 4.00m
25 How To Stay Young - Thurs BBC1 - 3.99m
26 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.87m
These consolidated figures include viewers who watched the programmes live and on catch-up, but does not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. Why? I dunno, they just don't, all right? Those ITV programmes marked "*" indicate they do not include HD viewers. On BBC2, apart from the successes of Line Of Duty and the Bake Off spin-off, University Challenge drew 2.93 million viewers, followed by Gardeners' World (2.42m), An Island Parish: Shetland (2.20m), Europe: Us Or Them (2.19m), Celebrity Mastermind (1.99m), Five Star Babies: Inside The Portland Hospital (1.64m) and Tom Jones's 1950s: The Decade That Made Me (1.90m). Aside from Googlebox, The Island With Bear Grylls was Channel Four's second highest-rated broadcast of the week (2.90 million), followed by The Supervet (2.48m) and Twenty Four Hours In A&E (1.93m). F1: Chinese Grand Prix Highlights drew 1.74 million. Channel Five's top performer was The Tube: Going Underground with 1.72 million. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away had 1.53m. The latest episode of Gotham attracted 1.28 million. Sky Sports 1's most-watched programme was Live Ford Super Sunday with The Arse against Crystal Palace watched by 1.76 million viewers. The preceding coverage of Leicester City's win at Blunderland had 1.21 million. The earlier, geet controversial, game between Leicester City and West Hamsters United drew nine hundred and twenty two thousand whilst the previous day's Live Ford Saturday Night Football and Sheikh Yer Man city giving Moscow Chelski FC a damned good hiding at Torpedo Stamford Bridge had nine hundred and sixty eight thousand. Sky Sport 2's top-rated broadcast was coverage of the Glasgow derby a'tween Rangers against Celtic attracting five hundred and one thousand punters. Gillette Soccer Special was, as usual, Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with five hundred and fourteen thousand punters. On Sky Sports F1, the live coverage of the Chinese Grand Prix had an audience of five hundred and thirty two thousand. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (nine hundred and twenty seven thousand). The Queen's Garden drew five hundred and eleven thousand, Foyle's War also had five hundred and eleven thousand whilst Lewis was seen by four hundred and seventy five thousand. MotoGP Highlights headed ITV4's top ten, with three hundred and thirty seven thousand punters followed by the movie Goldfinger with three hundred and sixteen thousand. Worthless steaming pile of rotten diarrhoea, Celebrity Juice was ITV2's third most-watched performer with 1.02 million viewers. Every single one of whom need their bloody heads examined. The not-much-more-intellectually-stimulating Britain's Got more Toilets topped the weekly list with 1.16 million whilst spectacularly laughless, Plebs had 1.07 million. The sixth episode of Houdini & Doyle headed ITV Encore's top ten with but one hundred and thirteen thousand viewers. Vera was watched by one hundred thousand. BBC4's latest imported Scandi-noir drama Follow The Money had audiences of six hundred and sixteen thousand and six hundred and two thousand in a top-ten list headed by Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair)'s excellent A History Of Ancient Britain(eight hundred and eighty five thousand). Rock 'N' Roll Britannia attracted five hundred and forty four thousand. People's History Of Pop drew five hundred and twenty eight thousand, Britain's Treasure Island, five hundred and one thousand and Antiques Uncovered, four hundred and eighty eight thousand. Sky1's weekly top ten was headed by The Five (1.11 million), The Flash (nine hundred and eighty five thousand), Modern Family (nine hundred and forty three thousand) and Arrow (eight hundred and thirteen thousand). Sky Atlantic's list was topped by The Tunnel (six hundred and eighty thousand) and Camping (three hundred and twenty four thousand). On Sky Living, Elementary drew eight hundred and thirty seven thousand, Criminal Minds had seven hundred and seventy six thousand, Blindspot, seven hundred and three thousand and The Blacklist, seven hundred thousand. Sky Arts' The Beatles: From Liverpool To San Francisco had an audience of sixty one thousand. 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura was watched by four hundred and seventy nine thousand viewers. NCIS brought in three hundred and fifty three thousand and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit drew three hundred and six thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting eight hundred and ninety two four thousand punters, the largest weekly audience on the channel - CBS Action and the Universal Channel. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's list also included the second episode of 11.22.63 (three hundred and twelve thousand) and American Dad! (two hundred and thirty one thousand). On CBS Action, Walker, Texas Ranger was seen by one hundred and twenty one thousand and Bad girls by ninety seven thousand. The Universal Channel's top ten was headed by Chicago Med (two hundred and sixty one thousand). On Dave, Mock The Week was the highest-rated programme with three hundred and fifty two thousand punters. That was followed by Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and thirty three thousand) and Qi XL (three hundred and twenty two thousand). Drama's Hetty Wainthropp Investigates was watched by four hundred and fifty eight thousand viewers. Why, for the love of God, why? Dalziel & Pascoe had three hundred and fifty one thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (four hundred and thirty thousand), followed by Death In Paradise (two hundred and seventy five thousand), Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and seventy four thousand), Quantico (two hundred and forty two thousand) and New Tricks (one hundred and eleven thousand). On W, the most-viewed programme was Grimm (four hundred and seventy four thousand). Yesterday's Forbidden History was watched by two hundred and eighteen thousand and David Starkey's Monarchy: The Windsors by two hundred and eight thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Deadliest Catch had an audience of one hundred and eighty eight thousand punters and Alaskan Bush People was watched by one hundred and fifty three thousand. Discovery History's Tony Robinson's World War I topped the weekly-list with twenty four thousand viewers. Titanic: Anatomy Of A Disaster was watched by twenty one thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory attracted thirty four thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was Wheeler Dealers (fifty six thousand). Indeed, all ten slots in the channel's weekly top-ten were filled by episodes of the popular car restoration show featuring Mike and Ed. National Geographic's top ten was headed by Car SOS which had one hundred and twenty two thousand viewers. The Story of God was seen by sixty thousand. On The History Channel, Forged In Fire attracted one hundred and forty six thousand. Pirate Treasure Of The Knights Templar had an audience of forty four thousand on Military History. Evil Stepmothers and Deadly Women were ID's top programmes of the week (fifty thousand and thirty nine thousand viewers respectively). The Jail: Sixty Days In headed CI's list (one hundred and seventy six thousand). The latest episode of GOLD's repeat run of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted two hundred and eighty four thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (two hundred and fifty seven thousand). Your TV's Snapped had one hundred and twenty nine thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was viewed by seven hundred and thirty thousand whilst E4's latest episode of The Big Bang Theory drew 2.50 million punters (by a huge distance the largest multichannels audience of the week). The Horror Channel's broadcast of the movie The Legacy attracted one hundred and nineteen thousand viewers. Alaska: Earth's Frozen Kingdom drew thirty nine thousand on Eden. Yankee Jungle was the Animal Planet's most watched programme with thirty five thousand.

Line Of Duty's third series has been a proper monster hit for BBC2. In fact, going by ratings for the first four episodes, the Jed Mercurio show is the channel's strongest performing drama series since at least 2002 - when the current measurement of TV audience figures began. The first four episodes of series three have consolidated with an average of 4.9 million viewers.

BBC1's hit espionage thriller The Night Manager proved equally popular on the iPlayer service with the six-part series attracting almost ten million views in March alone. The adaptation of John le Carre's 1993 novel, featuring Tom Hiddleston and Huge Laurie, helped push iPlayer TV viewing to two hundred and forty four million views in March. The six-episode series drew a total of 9.8m views on the iPlayer, with every episode attracting at least one million requests to view. Three of the five most-requested TV shows on the iPlayer were episodes of The Night Manager. The most popular was episode three, which was the only episode in March to draw an audience of more than two million (2.01m). BBC3 abduction drama Thirteen was the next most popular show with a total of 7.95 million requests to view the five episodes in March. The five episodes of the drama all placed in the top fifteen most popular iPlayer TV shows in April, with the first episode the highest ranked at 1.89m. The corporation has hailed the success of Thirteen, which has drawn similar levels of viewing to a TV drama, as a vindication of its decision to make BBC3 an online-only service.
Yer man Jezza Clarkson has revealed he still hasn't come up with a name for his new Amazon Prime series and it's costing him thousands of pounds in lawyer fees. And this is 'news', apparently. Its a bit lightbulb still on, isn't it? The presenter is currently working on a new show with former Top Gear co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond - you knew that, right - but, a title still escapes them. Writing in his Sunday Times column, Clarkson said: 'When I first signed up with Amazon Prime to make a new motoring show, I knew all sorts of problems lay ahead. There was one problem, however, that I hadn't even considered. And it has turned out to be the biggest of the lot: Choosing a name. I spend at least six hours a day in my office - which is insured and smoke-free and resplendent with potted plants - sucking creatively on a corporate Biro as I wait for the daily 3pm "Anything yet?" phone call from Amazon in Los Angeles.' He added:'"Every morning, I'd make a seven thousand pound call to the lawyer with an idea and, every afternoon, I'd get a seven thousand pound reply saying the name was already in use by someone in New Zealand or France or Ukraine. Prime Torque. Autonation. Skid Mark. Everything was a no-no.' Jezza his very self admitted that James May nearly struck gold with the title Gear Knobs. But, the new show can't have the word 'gear' in it because the BBC say that it is too similar to Top Gear. And, since the BBC's copyright of the Top Gear format pre-dates Clarkson's involvement in it by over a decade, that seems fair enough, frankly. 'In short, the BBC not only owns the rights to The Stig, the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car and The Cool Wall, but also to any name that is remotely similar to Top Gear,' Jezza whinged. 'We tried explaining there's a show called Fifth Gear that doesn't belong to the BBC, but it was no good. Arguing with a lawyer costs more money than we had, so we hurriedly put the phone down and went back to the drawing board. We need a name that isn't in use by any business anywhere in the world and doesn't even sound or look like any name that's in use by any business anywhere in the world. And it can't even be a minor play on the words "Top" or "Gear." Oh, and it had to be a name that was liked by me, our producer, Hammond, Eeyore and a billionaire in Seattle.' Meanwhile, Jezza, Hamster and Cap'n Slowly have all appeared in a new trailer for their, as yet unnamed, show, on that very subject.
The BBC has attacked the Sun for printing 'unfounded nonsense' about Chris Evans' behaviour at Radio 2 since he took over at Top Gear. Although, curiously, not for being a shitebag right-wing pile of rancid diarrhoea that printed anonymous lies about who was responsible for the deaths of ninety six Liverpool fans at Hillsborough in 1989 (see below). Which, some may regard as an opportunity missed, this blogger would have said. The Sun has published a string of stories about Evans, the most recent of which alleged that he was 'out of control' and becoming 'more volatile' than his Top Gear predecessor, Jezza Clarkson. It claimed Evans 'has upset staff at BBC Radio 2 as he struggles to balance his TV role with his hit breakfast show. And the Sun can reveal his radio back room team are becoming increasingly concerned about his outbursts and diva-style behaviour.' Radio 2 controller Bob Shennan and BBC Studios director Mark Linsey have taken the unusual step of castigating the tabloid - which, to be fair, has a reputation for truthful and accurate reportage roughly on a par with that of Doctor Goebbals - over its coverage of Evans. Shennan and Linsey said in a statement: 'The assertion that Chris Evans' behaviour at Radio 2 since beginning work at Top Gear has been in any way below BBC acceptable levels is completely untrue. The Sun - for its own reasons - continues on a weekly, sometimes daily basis to publish negative stories about Top Gear and unfounded nonsense about Chris, which is no longer worth any serious consideration or response.' Except for this one, obviously. The phrase 'for its own reasons' is very interesting, though. The statement went on to praise the presenter of both Top Gear and the Radio 2 breakfast show for his 'commitment and professionalism. He remains a team player, a huge asset to the BBC and continues to show outstanding leadership in all he does on radio, television or for Children In Need.' The statement was shown to the Gruniad Morning Star after it was sent to the Sun but not used in its print edition and only partially used online. A Sun spokesman said: 'The Sun stands by its story, which was corroborated by several excellent sources at the BBC. We informed the BBC their statement was too long to be included in the story and they declined to shorten it, although part of it was used in the online article.' The Sun is not the only paper to have focused on Evans – the Mirra ran a story on 26 March about Evans and his working relationship with his new Top Gear co-host Matt LeBlanc. Which, obviously, it most certainly did not get from phone-hacking. Such is the stream of negative stories in the News Corp tabloid, however, that the company's close links with yer man Clarkson, who writes a column for The Sunday Times has already been noted. By the Gruniad if not anyone that actually, you know, matters.
The new series of Top Gear will have a spin-off show called Extra Gear, the BBC has confirmed. The spin-off will 'bring fans exclusive footage, interviews and behind-the-scenes access' to the main show. It will be presented by Rory Reid, who has already been announced as one of the seven new Top Gear presenters (he's one of the two that you've never previously heard of). Extra Gear, which begins in May, will be broadcast on BBC3 and BBC Worldwide. In common with most BBC3 shows it will feature lots of uses of the word 'innit?' complete with dramatic hand-gestures and that. You know, like EastEnders: E20 (which lasted about twelve episodes). And, even more ludicrously, Ambridge Extra. Yeah, that was a good idea, was it not? Reid claimed that Extra Gear was 'hugely exciting' as Top Gear fans were 'some of the keenest in the world and with this show, I'm giving them a chance to really get a peek behind the curtain.' Although he should, perhaps, have amended that statement to something along the lines of 'Top Gear used to have some of the keenest fans in the world, when it was being presented by Jezza, Hamster and Cap'n Slowly. It remains to be seen whether all, some or not many of that huge national and international audience decides to stick with it now that it is under new management,' as it were. 'I'm looking forward to showing them how the show is made and what goes on behind the scenes, giving viewers a different perspective on some of the coolest cars on the planet.' Top Gear will return to BBC2 in May in its regular Sunday night slot. Extra Gear will be made available immediately after episodes of the main show have been broadcast, the BBC said.
The long-awaited Twin Peaks revival's cast has a whopping two hundred and seventeen members. Showtime this week revealed a full cast-list for next year's mini-series - which confirms previously-rumoured names, adds many new ones and reveals which original cast members are returning. Michael Cera, Monica Bellucci, Tim Roth, Lost Highway composer and former Nine Inch Nails singer Trent Reznor, David Patrick Kelly, Jeremy Davies, Ernie Hudson, Jessica Szohr and David Koechner are just a handful of the newcomers revealed. Among those previously linked to Twin Peaks and now confirmed are Laura Dern, Balthazar Getty, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, Ashley Judd, Robert Forster, Robert Knepper and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Kyle MacLachlan leads the returning cast as Special Agent Dale Cooper, along with an in-drag David Duchovny as Agent Denise Bryson, Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne, Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer, Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie as Laura's doomed parents and Harry Dean Stanton as Carl Rodd. Also on the list of returning cast is the late Log Lady actress Catherine E Coulson - although it's not clear if her scenes were shot before her death last year or if they will be archival.
BBC dramas Wolf Hall and The Dresser were among the big winners at this year's BAFTA Craft Awards, which honour television's behind-the-scenes talent. The Dresser, starring Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Anthony Hopkins, received two awards - one for its costumes and one for its make-up and hair. Wolf Hall, meanwhile, was recognised for its editing and sound. Another four programmes also received two awards at the London event, hosted by Stephen Mangan. They include Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which received BAFTAs for its production design and visual effects and nature documentary series The Hunt, honoured for its photography and music. The programme's success in the latter category marked the first time since 2002 that an award for music has gone to a factual production. With other awards going to London Spy and VE Day Seventy: The Nation Remembers, the BBC won ten out of the twenty competitive awards handed out on Sunday. But there was also a strong showing for Channel Four productions, with Michaela Coel winning the 'breakthrough talent' award for E4's Chewing Gum and Channel Four's The Murder Detectives being recognised for its direction. The event also saw Shane Meadows honoured for directing This Is England '90 and Russell Davies receive a writing award for Cucumber. Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan were also given a writing award for their work on the hugely unfunny sitcom Catastrophe. Sky drama Fortitude won an award for its titles and graphic identity, while there were two prizes for ITV's The Sound Of Music Live! Casting director Nina Gold received a special award at the ceremony, which comes before the main BAFTA TV Awards on 8 May.

Chris Evans' Radio 2 Breakfast Show is to be investigated by the broadcasting watchdog over an interview with Jeremy Irons in which the actor said a naughty swear word. Yes, That one. Ofcom said that the programme 'included the most offensive language before the watershed' and would be 'investigated' to see if it had breached its code. And, if it had, whose bollocks this politically appointed quango, elected by no one could kick till they turned purple. The incident took place on 18 March as Irons recounted an anecdote involving fellow actor, Sir John Hurt. After the word was said, Evans immediately apologised, while Irons added that he was 'terribly sorry.' The actor attributed his swearing to the fact that it was 'so relaxed and so normal' in Evans' studio. 'A little too relaxed maybe,' said Evans, who went on to ask fellow guest, Paloma Faith, not to 'make light' of the incident. Ofcom confirmed that the programme would be investigated in the latest issue of its broadcast and on-demand bulletin. 'The guests were all briefed ahead of the programme to remind them they were taking part in a live broadcast,' said a BBC spokeswoman. 'After Jeremy accidentally swore, both he and Chris immediately apologised to listeners.'

It was said to be the most expensive drama in Channel Four's history and its biggest new hit for twenty years when it began, but Channel Four's drama Indian Summers has been extremely cancelled after two series. Because it was shit and no one was watching it, which is usually the reason why TV shows get cancelled. Indian Summers was envisaged by its makers as a five-series, fifty-part retelling of the birth of modern India. Its first season is understood to have cost fourteen million smackers to make. But, after debuting with an overnight audience of three million viewers for its debut episode last year – and a consolidated audience of over five million – the second series has seen ratings drop disastrously to just a million viewers. The period drama may have suffered from its scheduling on Sunday night, where the first series began against BBC1's adaptation of JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. It returned earlier this year against another BBC1 big hitter, The Night Manager. One critic described the plot of the second series was 'constipated'. When the first series launched last year, the Gruniad Morning Star's Vicky Frost slavvered: 'Clearly, someone at Channel Four has been taking a good look at Downton Abbey. But as befits a Channel Four take on Sunday night drama, there's also a great deal more booze, scandal and ill-advised sex than Downton usually provides.' The latest episode of Indian Summers – the seventh of its ten-part run – had just over one million overnight viewers. It was beaten by fellow dramas, ITV's Home Fires and BBC1's Undercover. It also lost out to Louis Theroux's BBC2 documentary, Drinking To Oblivion, which had 2.2 million viewers in the 9pm slot. A Channel Four spokesman said: 'We're incredibly proud of Indian Summers and have loved having it in the schedule but with a number of new drama launches already confirmed for 2017 we've decided not to commission a third series.' Or, in other words, 'it cost too much for the small number of viewers it was getting so we're going to spend the money on something else.' 2015 dramas which will return to Channel Four this year include the critically acclaimed Humans and No Offence.
Full-of-his-own-smarmy-cleverness Stewart Lee was featured on Brendon Burns's podcast this week and talked about the ratings for Stewart Lee's Exceptionally Smug Comedy Vehicle. The Gruniad Morning Star-readers favourite said that he had spoken to the BBC about another series and said 'If I get a fifth run, it'll do the same number of viewers as the last run. If you schedule it better it'll get more viewers but a far worse AI score, a number of broadsheet papers will give it four out of five reviews and it'll cost a quarter of what making a sitcom would.' Which, basically, implied that Stewart Lee's Exceptionally Smug Comedy Vehicle may well ride again, mainly because it a relatively easy way for BBC2 to get good press and because it's cheap. Whether those are good reasons to make to TV show, this blogger will leave up to dear blog reader' individual tastes.
The BBC has criticised the Sunday Scum Express for its claiming that a forthcoming BBC2 documentary will suggest Malaysian Airlines MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The Scum Express ran an article headlined Shock claim: Ukrainian fighter jet shot down Malaysia Airlines' MH17 suggesting that the BBC film contradicted official reports into the crash, which concluded that the flight was most likely brought down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian forces. The Scum Express article focused on witnesses in the documentary saying that they saw fighter jets fire on the airliner, which crashed killing all two hundred and ninety eight on board in 2014. It also details further allegations that the plane was brought down by bombs planted as part of a CIA-backed conspiracy. These claims were also picked up by the Kremlin and Russian state-backed media which said the documentary would expose 'the truth' about what happened to MH17. The topic is especially sensitive given the Russian government's refusal to accept the findings of the official Dutch-led inquiry into the downing of the plane. However, the BBC said that the views were 'merely some of a number' of theories put forward in the documentary, which also presented evidence from experts saying that Ukrainian fighter jets could not have flown at the altitude needed to fire on MH17. BBC2's The Conspiracy Files: Who Shot Down MH17? is scheduled to be broadcast on 3 May. A spokesperson said: 'The Sunday Express has misrepresented this programme. Contrary to their headline experts in fact tell the programme it was unlikely a Ukrainian fighter jet could have shot down MH17, as they cannot fly at such high altitudes. This impartial documentary takes a balanced viewpoint in reporting the competing theories surrounding the fate of MH17, including the evidence for and against those involving Russia, Ukraine and the CIA. It also examines in detail the findings of the official Dutch inquiry into the incident, which provide compelling evidence that the plane was brought down by a powerful ground to air missile.'
The BBC's Director General is understood to have met with George Osborne in an attempt to head off government attempts to top-slice the licence fee according to the Gruniad Morning Star. Tony Hall saw the chancellor 'recently', the newspaper claims, 'following reports that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is trying to reopen the financial settlement with the broadcaster that was agreed last July.' As recently as last Thursday a DCMS minister suggested that the issue of using some of the money collected from the licence fee for organisations other than the BBC is still 'under discussion.' Any move towards such contestable funding would be strongly opposed by the BBC, which Lord Hall has already indicated would be a reopening of the agreed deal. One alleged senior BBC 'source' allegedly said on Monday: 'We have had very recent assurances that the deal is a deal.' BBC executives agreed a behind-closed-doors financial settlement with Osborne and the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale last July, under which the corporation agreed to shoulder the cost of free licence fees for the over-seventy fives in return for a series of concessions. BBC concerns have recently mounted, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, parliamentary under secretary for the DCMS, told the House of Lords last Thursday that the model of contestable funding, or top-slicing, is 'still under discussion' as part of the White Paper set to be published on charter renewal. In a speech, Neville-Rolfe noted that media regulator Ofcom had already 'raised concerns' about children's television being an area of programming at risk of funding cuts. 'There have been calls from some quarters to allow part of the licence fee – or some other form of public funding – to be made available for public service broadcasting to organisations other than the BBC. That is the contestable funding model. That model is under discussion and our plans will be set out in the White Paper.' The speech came after The Sunday Times and Broadcast magazine both reported that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale was looking to hand as much as one hundred million knicker of the licence fee to 'third parties' to produce children's programming and 'other content.' The BBC has long feared that top-slicing would be used as a kind of Trojan Horse by the government to share licence fee funding for all public service broadcasting and not just the corporation. As long ago as last September, Hall made clear that any attempt to take further funding from the £3.7bn licence fee would be considered 'a violation of the pact.' He told an industry conference: 'Let me make it clear for the record that any suggestion of top-slicing would be seen by us as reopening the [funding] agreement.' Official records released last December showed that Osborne met Hall and other senior BBC executives in September 2015, the same month he met with billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Osborne also held two meetings with the News Corp boss in June of the same year. Discussions were held with several organisations including The Arts Council about the licence fee but it is not clear which organisations would produce the public service broadcasting felt to be most at risk, such as children's. Neville-Rolfe also called the proposal of extending future BBC charters from ten to eleven years in order to decouple them from the electoral cycle 'an interesting idea' in the Lords. She reiterated statements made by other department ministers that the White Paper would be published in May. The BBC declined to comment and a spokesman for the DCMS said that it would neither confirm nor deny the top-slicing reports, adding, 'Everything will be set out in the White Paper.'
The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, has spoken in favour of the privatisation of Channel Four, arguing that the commercially funded, state-owned broadcaster could be 'better off' in private hands. Despite saying that no decision would be made until after discussions over the future of the BBC's charter renewal, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's comments to the House of Lords communications committee on Tuesday of this week were overwhelmingly in favour of a move into private ownership. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said: 'There is an argument that Channel Four would have a stronger future if it has a private sector partner who has deep pockets and was willing to invest in the growth of the business.' He suggested that such a move would be 'in Channel Four's interests' rather than the Treasury's: 'This is not about raising money for the government [but] about trying to find a model to sustain Channel Four.' Asked which companies would be potential buyers, the man who tried to privatise Channel Four in 1996 said: 'I talk to a large number of media companies and I think there is no shortage of potential interest.' Adding that private ownership could 'improve the quality and quantity' of the channel's public service content, he said: 'When we come to look at potential options, commitment to invest in new programming is an important issue.' When Labour peer Lord Hart asked how, exactly, the government would avoid potential buyers reneging on promises made before acquisitions, mentioning the takeover of Cadbury's as an example of that happening, the lack of culture secretary claimed that media regulator Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - would 'have the power to check.' Whatever the Hell that means. Channel Four is 'firmly opposed' to privatisation or anything even remotely like it, arguing that this would make public service content such as the news harder to justify. Its former chair Lord Burns had proposed the 'mutualisation' of the broadcaster. The vile and odious rascal Whttingdale said of this proposal: 'I'm not sure it addresses the problems really.' He said private ownership 'would not dilute' the remit governing Channel Four's public service requirements, which he believes should, if anything, be strengthened whatever the ownership structure. If a future owner tried to water down these requirements – by broadcasting less news and current affairs for example – then the regulator 'should say no,' he said. He added that the government was 'looking at every option' to guarantee the future of the broadcaster set up during Margaret Thatcher's first parliament, but committee members said afterwards that 'the direction of travel is clear' if the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale survives an expected cabinet reshuffle after the 23 June Europe referendum. Despite denying that the issue of ownership was even 'under debate' in August 2015, a government official was photographed entering Downing Street with a document setting out options for a sell-off just a month later.
NCIS is saying goodbye to Michael Weatherly at the end of the current series, but one person who won't be back to mark the occasion is Cote De Pablo. The actress starred in the popular US naval crime drama for eight years, leaving in 2013; her character, Ziva David, was a significant love interest for Weatherly's Tony DiNozzo. Confirming the news at a Q&A for her film The Thirty Three, De Pablo also said that she 'doesn't regret' quitting the series - citing 'political issues' and the 'scripts not being good enough. I love this character,' she told TVLine. 'I worked eight years crafting this character, so when I felt and perceived the character wasn't being treated with the respect she deserved, all the money in the world [couldn't change that].' What we do know about Weatherly's departure is that his exit storyline involves a globe-trotting killer who is 'targeting current and former agents.' NCIS is lining up possible replacements for DiNozzo, with Duane Henry and 24's Sarah Clarke guest-starring as MI6 and FBI agents respectively this season, with the potential to become series regulars.
Many stars have appeared in The Simpsons over the years, though one that, tragically, never cropped up was the late Prince. However, following the Wee Man in the Purple Trousers' tragic death last week, it has emerged that the singer was, actually, due to appear as a guest on the show, though plans were scuppered by Prince himself. As previously revealed in a DVD commentary, Prince was meant to feature in an episode that acted as a sequel to Stark Raving Dad, which saw mental patient Leon Kompowsky convinced he was Michael Jackson - voiced secretly by Jacko himself. In The Prince Episode, the character of Kompowsky was due to return, this time believing he was The Purple One. The show's producers sent Prince the script, but he was reportedly not very impressed and, after much back-and-forth with various rewrites, the episode was abandoned. Executive producer and showrunner on The Simpsons Al Jean has unveiled two segments from the previously unseen rewritten script by Conan O'Brien. One scene sees Lisa trying to buy tickets to a Prince concert in Springfield and another reveals Selma as a big fan of the musician, even showing knowledge of some of his lesser-known movies. Despite no official guest slot, there have been various allusions to Prince on The Simpsons over the years, including a brief appearance in series seven's episode Radioactive Man.
Bacteria from faeces - urgh! - has been found on ice which was served to an undercover researcher at a KFC restaurant. The discovery was made by the BBC's Rip Off Britain, which was investigating food hygiene at branches of several big-name takeaways and coffee shops. A scientist who examined the results told the programme that the presence of the bacteria 'increased the risk' of anyone who consumed the ice becoming ill. No shit? Or, actually, some shit. KFC said that it was 'extremely disappointed' had somebody shat in the ice machine and has launched an investigation into who done the dirty deed. Quite right too. Doctor Margarita Gomez Escalada studied the sample, taken from a Birmingham KFC restaurant, at Leeds Beckett University. She told the programme: 'We found high levels of bacteria in the ice. The presence of faecal coliform suggests that there's faecal contamination either on the water that made the ice, or the ice itself and so it increases the risk of getting sick from consuming this ice.' Undercover researchers visited a branch of Costa in Loughborough, the Chicken Cottage in Hampstead, a Café Nero in Bath and the Wimpy in Basildon, as well as the KFC at Martineau Place in Birmingham. At each location, Rip Off Britain said its researchers asked for a cup of tap water with ice, as this can be a good indicator of general standards of hygiene behind the scenes. Most of the samples that were taken turned up low and harmless levels of bacteria when tested, Rip Off Britain said.
​ITV will rebroadcast bitter old Red Jimmy McGovern's award-winning drama Hillsborough​ this weekend, following this week's long-awaited inquest verdict. Hillsborough​ was first broadcast in December 1996 and starred Christopher Eccleston and Ricky Tomlinson. It will be shown on Sunday 1 May at 10.20pm. McGovern's drama won BAFTAs for Single Drama, Editing and Sound and for Eccleston as Trevor Hicks, who lost both his teenage daughters in the disaster. The docudrama ends two years after the tragedy, when the original inquest produced a - subsequently discredited - verdict of accidental death. This is the fourth time that Hillsborough​ has been screened on TV. Previously, it was shown on the tenth and twentieth anniversaries of the disaster and on 24 September 2012, following the publication of the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel. The BBC, meanwhile, plan to broadcast its own documentary following the new verdict. The two-hour special will be shown on Sunday 8 May at 9pm on BBC2.
So, as you may have heard, dear blog reader, ninety-six Liverpool football fans who died as a result of a crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, their inquests have concluded. And about bloody time, too. Long-term dear blog readers will recall that this blog has supported the campaign for Justice for the Ninety Six for some years and to see those responsible for the wilful cover-up that followed the original incident brought to book, publicly. The jury found that match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield was 'responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence' due to 'a breach of his duty of care.' Police errors also added to 'a dangerous situation' at the FA Cup semi-final. The Prime Minister said that the inquests had provided 'official confirmation' that fans were 'utterly blameless.' After a twenty seven-year campaign by victims' families, the behaviour of Liverpool fans was finally, completely and utterly exonerated. The jury found that they did not contribute to the danger unfolding at the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's ground on 15 April 1989. Nine jurors reached unanimous decisions on all but one of the fourteen questions at the inquests into Britain's worst sporting disaster. The coroner, Sir John Goldring, said that he would accept a majority decision on the final question, whether the fans were unlawfully killed - and seven jurors agreed that they were. When considering how each of the ninety six victims died, the jury concluded that many died well after 3:15pm on the day of the match. The coroner at the original inquest in 1991, Doctor Stefan Popper, said that he would not hear any evidence relating to deaths beyond that time because he believed all the victims had died, or suffered fatal injuries, by that time. The deaths were ruled accidental but those verdicts were quashed following the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel Report and new hearings were ordered. The new inquests found the direct medical cause of death was compression asphyxia in all but three of the victims. The earliest time of death was estimated from 2:57pm and the last up to as late as 5:00pm. Tony Bland, the ninety sixth victim, died in 1993 after being left brain damaged, due to, or as a consequence of, compression asphyxia. The jury also concluded that police errors caused 'a dangerous situation' at the turnstiles; failures by commanding officers caused a crush on the terraces; there were mistakes in the police control box over the order to open the Leppings Lane end exit gates; defects at the stadium, including calculations over crowd capacity, contributed to the disaster; there was an error in the safety certification of the Hillsborough ground; South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Ambulance Service delayed declaring a major incident and the emergency response was, therefore, delayed; Sheffield Wednesday Football Club failed to approve the plans for dedicated turnstiles for each pen; there was inadequate signage at the club and misleading information on match tickets and that club officials should have requested a delay in kick-off as they were aware of a huge number of fans outside shortly before the game was due to start. Current SYP Chief Constable David Crompton said that the force 'got the policing catastrophically wrong.' He said his force 'unequivocally' accepts the conclusions of unlawful killing and the wider findings. 'As I have said before, I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and all those affected.' At a later press conference, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign - which is made up of twenty two of the bereaved families - called for the resignations of Crompton and the current chief executive of the ambulance service. Stephen Wright - whose brother Graham died in the disaster - said: 'The five South Yorkshire Police legal teams simply pursued the denials of the past, blaming mythical late, drunken, ticketless fans for the deaths of our loved ones.' He added: 'Mr Crompton has not only let the police force down but also the general public. He has also let down rank and file police officers, many of whom did their best on the day of the disaster and were themselves traumatised.' Elkan Abrahamson, one of the Hillsborough families' solicitors, said it was 'shameful' that South Yorkshire Police and the ambulance service had fought 'tooth and nail to avoid adverse findings by the jury' adding, 'this turned the inquests into an adversarial battle that took twice as long as it should have done.' Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust Chief Executive, Rod Barnes said it 'fully accepted' the jury's conclusions that mistakes were made, adding it was 'truly sorry.' The police response to the increasing crowd outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles at Liverpool's match against Nottingham Forest was 'slow and uncoordinated,' the inquests in Warrington heard. The road closure 'exacerbated' the situation and there were no filter cordons in place to regulate the movement of spectators. Attempts to close the perimeter gates were made too late and there were no contingency plans for the 'sudden arrival' of a large number of fans, the jury said. Jurors concluded that the commanding officers should have ordered the closing of the tunnel which led directly to the central pens where the fatal crush occurred. The South Yorkshire Ambulance Service failed to establish the 'nature of the problem' at the Leppings Lane end, the inquests heard. The jury said that the failure to recognise and call 'a major incident' led to delays in the emergency response. Jurors concluded those mistakes contributed to the loss of lives. In addition, faults with the design and layout of crush barriers within the stadium were highlighted. There was a lack of dedicated turnstiles for individual pens and there were too few for a capacity crowd, the inquests were told. The jury heard more than two years of evidence, making it the longest running inquests in British legal history. Summing up, Sir John told the families that the loss of their loved ones would 'remain the source of anguish and grief' and he hoped they had gained 'at least some comfort' from the decisions. He continued: 'You could not have done more by your loved ones. You have done your duty by them.' He told jurors their 'commitment and diligence' had been 'remarkable.' While thanking the six women and three men, applause rang out from the public gallery and Sir John remarked he had 'never before had a jury clapped.' After the disaster, allegations emerged from 'unnamed sources' - later established to have been a Police Federation spokesman and the Sheffield Conservative MP, Irvine Patnick - claiming that Liverpool supporters had 'deliberately arrived late determined to force entry' to the ground. This claim formed the basis of the 'rock solid' defence South Yorkshire Police sought to present at the 1989 Taylor Inquiry into the disaster. The aim of these lies was to 'deflect blame on to supporters' and exonerate the police. While many Liverpool supporters did arrive after 2.30pm, the inquest was told that evidence suggested it was actually the 'failure to control the crowd' and 'inadequate' turnstiles that led to the fatal crush. The jury heard evidence from former South Yorkshire Police inspector Clive Davis who recalled being told by former Chief Superintendent Terry Wain 'to put the blame for this disaster where it belongs: on the drunken, ticketless Liverpool fans.' This was denied in evidence by Wain. However, he admitted that a report he prepared at the time had exaggerated claims that 'several thousand' spectators had arrived at the ground within minutes of kick-off. The inquests heard the ten thousand one hundred fans with standing tickets for the Leppings Lane end were expected to enter through just seven turnstiles, causing congestion outside the ground. Lord Justice Taylor, in his 1990 report, concluded that fans were 'reasonable' to arrive between 2.30pm and 2.40pm as match tickets only requested people be in their places 'fifteen minutes before the game.' He was also satisfied that the large concentration of fans arriving at Leppings Lane at 2.40pm to 2.50pm 'did not arrive as a result of any concerted plan.' He concluded that police had 'failed' to prepare for controlling the arrival of a large number of fans in a short period. Both the club and police 'should have realised the turnstile area could not easily cope with the large numbers demanded of it' unless they arrived steadily over a lengthy period. He accepted that there were 'small groups [of fans] without tickets' looking to 'exploit any chance of getting into the ground.' But, the main problem was simply one of 'large numbers packed into the small area outside the turnstiles.' He stated, categorically, that 'fans' behaviour played no part in the disaster.' The Hillsborough Independent Panel Report concluded that crowd congestion outside the stadium was 'not caused by fans arriving late' for the kick-off. The turnstiles, it said, were 'inadequate to process the crowd safely' and the rate of entry 'insufficient to prevent a dangerous build-up' outside the ground. The jury said the behaviour of Liverpool supporters did not cause or contribute to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles. In the days following the tragedy, some newspapers reported that a 'crazed surge' of Liverpool fans, many 'the worse for drink, others without tickets' had 'raced' to the stadium causing the deaths of ninety five people in the stadium. Reports quoted police 'witnesses' describing fans as 'lager-louts' or even as 'animals.' The chief constable of South Yorkshire Police at the time of the Hillsborough disaster told officers that if anyone was to blame it was 'drunken ticketless fans.' These comments, by Sir Peter Wright, were revealed in minutes from a South Yorkshire Police Federation meeting, held four days after the 1989 tragedy. They were read to the inquests jury during evidence from Paul Middup, who was then the Federation's secretary. Middup was quoted in several newspapers in the days following the 15 April 1989 disaster, claiming that some supporters had been 'tanked up.' A number of police officers told the original inquests that fans were drinking before the match. One of them, a Sergeant Lomas, claimed that he had 'never before seen' so much alcohol consumed before a match - 'beer, cider, wine, big bottles, cans, carafes of wine; a wide array of different drink.' Some fans were 'unsteady on their feet,' he told the jury. The Hillsborough Inquests heard an allegation that former SYP chief inspector Sir Norman Bettison had been asked to 'concoct a story' that 'all the Liverpool fans were drunk and that we were afraid they were going to break down the gates, so we decided to open them.' That claim was strongly denied by Bettison. The jury found 'nothing to suggest' that the behaviour of fans, drunken or otherwise, contributed to the disaster. It was also claimed that the sudden inrush of two thousand fans which led to the fatal crushing on the terraces was caused by Liverpool fans who 'forced a gate' to enter the stadium. This was a lie told by match commander David Duckenfield. How so many fans entered the ground just a few minutes before kick-off lies at the centre of the Hillsborough disaster. The allegation that fans had forced their way in through Exit Gate C came from Duckenfield in the days after the tragedy and was a lie he stuck to for many years afterwards. However, he finally admitted at the inquests that this had been a lie. Knowing full well that it was he and he alone who had ordered the gate to be opened, he nevertheless instead told the FA Chief Executive Graham Kelly and the Sheffield Wednesday FC club secretary Graham Mackrell in the police control box that 'a gate had been forced and there had been an inrush of Liverpool supporters.' This lie was later presented to the media as the official police version of events and heavily influenced contemporary newspaper reports of the tragedy. The inquests were told that Duckenfield's lie, shared in good faith with the media by Kelly, led to some 'seriously inaccurate reporting' of events.

The Sun has come under fire for not mentioning the Hillsborough inquest verdict on its front page. The story also did not appear on the front page of its sister paper, The Times, for its first edition, although it was later changed to include a picture of the victims' relatives. Both newspapers are, of course, owned by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Four days after the 1989 tragedy the Sun infamously ran a disgraceful front-page story proclaiming to tell The Truth about the disaster. It featured damaging claims, allegedly from an 'anonymous' policeman, that some fans had 'picked pockets of victims,' 'urinated on cops' and that some beat up a policeman giving the 'kiss of life' to a dying fan. Other regional and national newspapers published similar allegations, albeit far less prominently. The article was based on a story filed by White's News Agency in Sheffield which quoted 'unnamed officers' as well as the Conservative MP for Sheffield Irvine Patnick. This outrageous - and wholly inaccurate - slur on fans' behaviour originated from police inspector Gordon Sykes who, while giving evidence at the inquests, admitted to sharing 'unfounded allegations' by Hillsborough officers with Paul Middup, the secretary of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, and Patnick. White's later admitted that the source of the 'unsolicited" claims came from four 'high ranking' SYP officers. At the inquests, Sykes accepted the Sun's story was 'unfair' and 'a distortion' of what happened and that he 'regretted' sharing 'unfounded allegations' he made about Liverpool fans pick-pocketing the dead. He told the jury that he had 'reported' what he heard in 1989 and had 'honestly believed' the allegations were true. Despite not covering the verdict of the two-year inquest – which cleared the fans of any fault – on the front page, the Sun did run a double-page spread on the outcome on pages eight and nine and covered it in its main editorial column. The leader column stated that after twenty seven years 'the Hillsborough families finally have their first measure of justice.' It added: 'Whether they get more is in the hands of the CPS. We hope they do.' This, from a newspaper that considered some nonsense bollocks about Rita Ora to be more worthy of space on its front page than the most important news story of the day. This blogger will leave it up to you, dear blog reader, to consider whether you consider these comments to be sincere or otherwise. 'The horror that befell Liverpool fans was, as the inquest has now found, the fault of catastrophic police blunders – specifically by former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield – which were shamefully then covered up. The supporters were not to blame. But the police smeared them with a pack of lies which in 1989 the Sun and others in the media swallowed whole,' the newspaper weaselled in one of those 'non-apology apologies' which it specialises in. 'We apologised prominently twelve years ago, again four years ago on the front page and do so unreservedly again now.' The absence of coverage of the Hillsborough inquest on Wednesday's front page led to criticism of the paper, with many voicing their anger via Twitter. Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker said that the decision not to run the story on the front page was 'as disgusting as it is unsurprising. They have no shame.' Tony Barrett, The Times' Merseyside football writer, tweeted, though without direct reference to his newspaper's front page: 'Unbelievable.' A photo of the families outside the Warrington court room appeared on later editions of The Times, along with a trailer for its coverage, including an editorial comment. This, the Gruniad Morning Star claimed came about after 'a "mutiny" by the sports desk and an overwhelmingly negative reaction on social media.' In 2012 the Sun ran a front page called The Real Truth in which the paper announced it was 'profoundly sorry for false reports.' On Tuesday former editor of the Sun the odious Kelvin MacKenzie, who oversaw the 1989 story blaming fans, also apologised for the 'hurt' the story caused. In a snivelling statement he said: 'Today's verdicts are an important step in obtaining justice for the victims. My heart goes out to those who have waited so long for vindication. As I have said before, the headline I published was wrong and I am profoundly sorry for the hurt it caused.' Talking on Sky News's press preview, the Sun's political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, claimed that the police were 'at the core' of the whole story and the paper was 'misled' by them. He said that if people were still angry over the 1989 front page, he 'completely understands,' adding: 'We deserve everything that is thrown our way.' Yep, that's about the size of it. Scum.
And ...
Claims against the Sun by phone-hacking victims can go ahead, a High Court judge has ruled. News Group Newspapers, which has previously settled an 'uge number of cases brought against the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, has always claimed there was 'no hacking activity' at its sister tabloid. One or two people even believed them. But, on Thursday in London, Mr Justice Mann allowed the claims to proceed. More than one thousand phone-hacking claims have been settled by NGN - now News UK. The judge said that four claimants could amend their cases to include the daily newspaper for the first time in the proceedings. Two of those claims are among a number scheduled for a trial in July. Chris Hutchings, one of the lead solicitors for those claiming their private voicemail messages were hacked, said: 'Today's ruling brings the Sun squarely into the civil litigation being brought against News Group. The court has now allowed claimants, for the first time, to include claims of phone-hacking by the newspaper. The decision will also affect up to fifty further cases which are about to be commenced against the defendant and will widen the disclosure of documentation it will have to provide going forward.' So, not a good few days for the Sun all round, then. Accused of lying regarding Chris Evans, proved to have lied in relation to Hillsborough and now, getting their arse sued into the middle of next week over alleged phone-hacking. One imagines Uncle Rupert will have had better weeks.
The original classroom where William Shakespeare is believed to have studied and seen his first plays opened to the public for the first time this weekend. The classroom is owned by the King Edward VI school, the direct successor to the grammar school in Stratford-upon-Avon attended by Shakespeare from about 1571. It opened to visitors after a £1.8m lottery-funded renovation. Among the discoveries was a hidden pre-Reformation wall painting. Bennet Carr, headmaster of the modern day grammar school, says of the atmospheric building: 'If I'm on my own in there sometimes, the hairs stand on the back of my neck.' His school is now going to share the classroom with visitors, with the renovated building opening on Saturday, the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The schoolroom where Shakespeare studied from the age of seven was the upper floor of the town's half-timbered medieval guildhall. There are no surviving records of the pupils who attended in the Sixteenth Century. But Professor Ronnie Mulryne of Warwick University says it is 'almost certain' that this was Shakespeare's school, until about the age of fourteen or fifteen. William's father John Shakespeare, a glove-maker and member of the local council, would have worked in the offices below the schoolroom. There would have been forty boys, from the age of seven to fifteen, all taught together in the same room by a single teacher. They sat on long wooden benches, called 'forms' for school days that stretched from 6am to 6pm. This was a classical education, with a strong emphasis on Latin and rote-learning, and it was where he first encountered writers such as Ovid, who would later be influential in his work. Shakespeare didn't go to university and all his formal education would have been in this single room. The room, under big wooden ceiling beams, has another claim to fame. It was where Shakespeare probably saw his very first play. Travelling players visiting the town had to perform before the local authorities, before they would be licensed to appear before the public. 'It's hardly conceivable that he wouldn't have taken an opportunity to see the plays,' says Professor Mulryne. Among the plays presented were Geoffrey Of Monmouth's Leir Of Britain - an early version of the story which Shakespeare would adapt as King Lear - and The Famous Victories Of Henry V. Mulryne claims these performers, arriving with drums, trumpets and costumes, must have made 'a huge impression' - and this would have been Shakespeare's first contact with professional actors. The Guildhall, built in 1420, was named after a religious foundation - the Guild of the Holy Cross. The Guild was closed in the Reformation in the 1540s, but Mulryne says it 'seemed' to have 'morphed' seamlessly into the new town council, based in the same building, with much the same people and keeping its upstairs school. Under the new religious order, the medieval wall paintings in churches had to be removed as symbols of the old Catholic faith. Shakespeare's father was paid to 'deface' the richly-coloured decorations in the Guild chapel next door. But, it is open to debate whether he was trying to erase or preserve these works of religious art, because rather than destroy them they were concealed with a covering of limewash. This also happened to an altar painting in the guildhall - and one of the biggest discoveries during the restoration was finding a well-preserved picture of John the Baptist, painted almost six hundred years ago. Such religious disputes were much more than cultural differences, it was a turbulent time of violence and political danger. And the schoolroom's story shows how closely a young Shakespeare was surrounded by the Tudor politics of religion. While Shakespeare's own beliefs remain a matter of academic debate, it's clear that his teachers had strong links to the outlawed Catholic tradition. Simon Hunt, who may well have been Shakespeare's first teacher, left the school to become a Jesuit priest. His successors, Thomas Jenkins and John Cottom also both had strong Catholic associations. Cottom had a brother who was a priest who was executed in London, a year or so after Shakespeare had left school. In a small community, such stories must have caused shockwaves. If there is any substance to the theory that Shakespeare spent time as a teacher in Lancashire, that also stemmed from the Cottoms, who were connected to the Hoghton family where a William Shakeshaft was recorded in the early 1580s. Mulryne says that the school and Guildhall help to put Shakespeare's background 'into its actual historical setting.' And it shows his early influences, including his 'rather vivid, technicolour' father. As well as being a successful entrepreneur and local worthy, John Shakespeare was also, later in his life, in the dock in this same building, facing charges for assault and for leaving a muck heap outside his door. The young Shakespeare would have studied Latin plays upstairs and seen the drama of real-life courts and local politics downstairs. 'It gives us a much greater sense of what life was like for the young William Shakespeare,' said Mulryne. 'It builds a picture of how his mind was formed.'

A Dutchman dubbed The Dentist Of Horror has been extremely sentenced to eight years in jail in France for mutilating the mouths of some one hundred and twenty patients. Jacobus Van Nierop 'took pleasure' in causing horrific injuries to patients in the small central town of Chateau-Chinon, prosecutors said. He was banned from practising dentistry and fined over ten thousand Euros. Van Nierop fled to Canada when suspicions arose and fought extradition to France in 2014. The court in the Central French town of Nevers heard that patients had suffered broken jaws, recurrent abscesses and septicaemia from Van Nierop's work. He had drugged patients then mutilated them as they slept in his dentist's chair. Prosecutor Lucile Jaillon-Bru said Van Nierop had carried out 'useless and painful procedures.' She added that his aim had been to earn money through claiming on patients' medical insurance schemes and to take 'pleasure at causing pain.'
Former Belgian junior Cyclo-cross champion Femke Van den Driessche has been very banned from the sport for six years for so-called 'mechanical doping,' the UCI announced on Tuesday. In the first confirmed case of 'mechanical doping', Van den Driessche was accused of concealing a motor in her racing bike during the under-twenty three women’s race at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Zolder on 30 January. 'The bike concerned was scanned using the new magnetic resonance testing deployed this year by the UCI,' a statement by the UCI read. 'This detected the motor whilst the bike was in the rider's pit area. The motor was a Vivax which was concealed along with a battery in the seat-tube. It was controlled by a Bluetooth switch installed underneath the handlebar tape.' Van den Driessche was found extremely guilty of 'technological fraud' and has been suspended for six years in a ban backdated to 11 October 2015. All of her results since that date have been disqualified and Van den Driessche has been ordered to pay a fine of twenty thousand Swiss francs and to return all medals and prize-monies received in connection with the disqualified competitions. The backdated nature of the ban suggests that the UCI were suitably convinced Van den Driessche had been using the illegal equipment throughout the season - although cycling's world governing body made no reference to this in its statement. Van den Driessche has always denied suggestions she had deliberately cheated, claiming the bike 'belonged to a friend' of hers. Which, if you look up 'dodgy alibis' on Goggle you'll find that one second on the list only to 'I never done it, I was on the Moon at the time. With Steve.' On 14 March 2016 Van den Driessche announced that she would not be defending herself in front of the UCI disciplinary committee, citing 'prohibitive costs' and the 'impossibility of getting a fair trial' after already being 'convicted in the court of public opinion.' She also announced her immediate retirement from cycling thus making the six year ban kind of redundant. Van den Driessche was national Cyclo-cross champion in 2011 and mountain bike champion in 2013 before becoming European Cyclo-cross champion in the under-twenty three category in 2015. Two months later she became Belgian Cyclo-cross champion in the same category weeks before the allegations surfaced during the 2016 Cyclo-cross World Championships. UCI President Brian Cookson said: 'We have invested considerable resources in developing this new and highly effective scanning technology and also in strengthening the sanctions applicable to anyone found cheating in this way. This case is a major victory for the UCI and all those fans, riders and teams who want to be assured that we will keep this form of cheating out of our sport.' Van den Driessche's sanction has been met with raised eyebrows by many of the cycling community especially in the light of the UCI not issuing any penalty to her Belgian team - the suggestion being that the nineteen-year-old acted alone and without any aid from mechanics or team management.

A rare acetate of songs from yer actual David Bowie's Hunky Dory - quite possibly yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite LP of all ever, bar none - with a handwritten label by The Grand Dame Her Very Self is to go up for auction. The seven-song acetate, which is the transitional stage between a master-tape and the finished vinyl often made for test purposes, was used to create six hundred promotional copies of Bowie's critically acclaimed fourth LP for music executives, before its official release in December 1971. It was pressed at The Beatles' Apple Studios in Savile Row sometime around September 1971 and was the precursor to the famous white label 'BOWPROMO' copies which would soon secure David's record deal with RCA. The acetate - only one copy of which had ever surfaced - is even rarer with the label information written in Bowie's own hand, as authenticated by a handwriting expert. The record, which reportedly still plays despite acetates typically suffering considerably more wear than normal vinyl, is expected to sell for more than thirty six thousand smackers when it goes on sale on 22 April at the online auction site Catawiki. The acetate features five songs which featured on Hunky Dory 'Oh! You Pretty Things', 'Eight Line Poem', 'Kooks', 'Queen Bitch' and 'Quicksand' - plus 'Bombers', which was replaced on the LP at the last moment by a cover of Biff Rose's 'Fill Your Heart', and was only released on the CD reissue of Hunky Dory twenty years later. It also contains an early version of another cover, Ron Davies's 'It Ain't Easy' which was eventually to find its way onto Bowie's next LP, the following year's The Fall & Rise Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. The acetate was originally owned by the late Mick Ronson, the lead guitarist of Bowie's band, The Spiders From Mars (you knew that, right). It was passed through his family and friends until it reached current owner, Dennis Graham, in 1973. He said: 'It's quite a funny story on how I came to own it,' Graham said. 'The record had been given to my neighbour as a gift from Mick Ronson's mum and he ended up giving it to me in exchange for a bottle of beer! I kept it for all these years and it's unbelievable to see how much it’s now worth.'
From that, dear blog reader, to this ...
A group of three cows led police on a chase and slowed traffic in California after falling out of a trailer near a local highway. The two Jersey cows and a Holstein were seen wandering around near Highway Ninety Nine in Modesto, according to California Highway Patrol. Both of the Jersey cows were quickly captured after finding their way to Modesto Junior College's agriculture department. The third cow continued mooooving (sorry) against traffic along the highway, as California Highway Patrol and animal control officers attempted to capture it. Woodland Avenue Fire Battalion Chief Heath Flora, who told KCRA that he was 'raised on a farm,' eventually managed to corner the Holstein against a chain link fence and was able to lasso the animal. 'Threw a rope around his back hoof and then tied it to the front of a patrol car,' Flora said. 'We're not cowboys, we're firefighters so roping cows is not our primary job.' A group of agriculture interns at Modesto Junior College spotted the scene and offered their trailer to help transfer the cows. The Holstein suffered some cuts in the chase, but was not seriously injured. And, since it's soon going to be burgers anyway ...
An eleven-year-old schoolgirl has confounded Russian police and airport officials after managing to fly unnoticed from Moscow to St Petersburg without documents and tickets. On the evening of 25 April, the girl, a Moscow resident, did not return home from school and her parents began to worry. She was later discovered at St Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport, having boarded a plane at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport, somehow eluding all inspections. According to the girl, who had never flown on an aeroplane before, her motive was that she had 'really wanted to see St Petersburg.' Having arrived at Vnukovo, she joined a family couple with children. Evidently, the security guards accidentally let the girl pass with the other children. Incredibly, she was not asked for documents at any of the inspection points in the airport. She boarded the plane, belonging to Aeroflot subsidiary Rossiya, by mixing with adults and took an empty seat. Pulkovo airport security cameras showed how the girl was accompanied by a woman and child, who held her by the hand, obviously having made her acquaintance on board the plane. But at the exit the family went their way and the girl remained in the terminal, which eventually attracted the attention of the transport police. 'The girl was sent to a social centre and the question of her return to her parents is now being decided,' said the police. Supervisory authorities plan to inspect Vnukovo. Security services and the public cannot understand how a minor, who had come to the airport for the first time and did not know of any secret alternate routes, was able to board a plane without any impediments and fly off. The airline is also likely to face scrutiny, while the schoolgirl's parents may be fined one hundred thousand rubles for having violated the article on 'the failure to fulfill obligations for educating minors.'
American Airlines Flight 2310, en route from Seattle to Dallas/Fort Worth, on Wednesday was forced to return to Sea-Tac International Airport after a bird strike on take-off, the airline said. An American Airlines spokesman told Q13 News that the bird - or possibly two or more birds - struck the nose of the plane and a large dent in the nose was clearly visible upon the aircraft's landing. No one was injured. The airline said that there were one hundred and fifty passengers and six crew members on aboard the Airbus A321. 'Our maintenance team is currently evaluating the aircraft,' the airline said. 'We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience, and are working to get them to Texas as soon as possible.' The airline later said that they had decided to swap out the aircraft and that the new plane would be leaving Sea-Tac for Dallas/Fort Worth at 6:50pm.
It has been claimed that Game Of Thrones not only affects other television channels and programmes, it also impacts the porn industry. Online viewing of porn dropped by around four per cent - equating to millions of people - while the first episode of the new series was broadcast on Sunday, according to Pornhub as quoted by the Daily Scum Mail. Data allegedly showed that the number of active users in the US started decreasing in the hour before the show started and did not return back to average levels until four hours later.
Alexander City Mayor Charles Shaw and his wife, Lavern, are charged with third-degree assault after engaging in a post-council meeting brawl with a councilman on Monday night. Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett confirmed that the pair was being booked into the county jail on Tuesday afternoon. 'They turned themselves in now,' he said. Bond was set at one thousand dollars. Councilman Tony Goss obtained arrest warrants at Tallapoosa County Circuit Court in Alexander City, against the couple after allegedly being punched and kicked following Monday evening's council meeting. A reporter for the Alex City Outlook witnessed the altercation. Immediately after the council meeting was over, Shaw went to where Goss was standing and punched him in the side of the face, the newspaper reported. Goss backed away while also trying to defend himself. Several city employees and others attempted to break up the fight. According to the newspaper, Alexander City Police Chief Willie Robinson grabbed Goss and restrained him while a second officer put Shaw in a headlock to get him away from the councilman. In an interview with AL.com, Goss said that the incident began Monday evening when Shaw attempted to call an executive session to discuss the firing of the city's finance director, Sandra Machen. The council president denied the request. Shaw, however, told AL.com that he has no authority to call an executive session, and it was 'a council member' who did so. Goss said Shaw 'got mad' at the denial and retrieved an e-mail in which Goss said 'something disparaging' about him. He said an argument soon followed with Goss shouting, 'You're a dictator,' and Shaw responding, 'You're a liar.' Oooo. Big fight, little people. How the argument then turned physical is 'in dispute.' Goss claimed that he 'tried to apologise' to some state auditors who were present when Shaw went over and punched him in the face. He said he 'punched back.' Shaw claimed Goss swore at his wife, which prompted the fight. 'If he cusses at my wife, I'll hit him again,' Shaw said. Goss said that Shaw's wife 'and friend' allegedly joined in and kicked at him while others tried to separate them. Both Goss and Shaw were treated in the emergency room of Russell Medical Centre. Now, why doesn't that sort of stuff happen in the House of Commons?
A couple have been told to 'restrain' their cat or face having their mail deliveries suspended. Matthew Sampson was notified by Royal Mail last week of 'a potential hazard' at his home in Patchway near Bristol which was 'affecting deliveries.' According to Royal Mail, Bella the cat is a 'threat' to staff and has been putting 'fingers at risk of injury.' But, Sampson, said that he was 'shocked' by the notice as he has 'never seen her get aggressive.' In the letter, Royal Mail states that it has been 'experiencing difficulties in delivering mail' to Sampson's address 'because of the actions of a cat.' It claimed the couple's postman - who is, obviously, not as soft as clarts - had 'reported' that when he pushes mail through their letterbox their cat 'snatches the mail and put his fingers at risk of injury.' Bella's owners have been advised to 'restrain their cat at all times' or provide an alternative - 'safe' - post box otherwise their post would be suspended. Sampson said that he 'understands where the postman is coming from' but had found the letter 'really funny. We've noticed over the last couple of days that the postman is very hesitant at putting the letters in and Bella thinks it's a game that he's trying to play,' he said. 'I haven't seen her put her paws all the way through but I think it's fair what they're saying - it's just how they're worded the letter. As to restraining the cat - I'd no way dare.'

An Ohio woman walking on an old - but still active - railroad bridge in East Louisville was, apparently, investigating a local urban legend with her boyfriend when she was hit and killed by a train, a deputy coroner said on Sunday. Roquel Bain, from Dayton, died of multiple blunt force injuries suffered in the collision and subsequent fall from the trestle, Deputy Coroner Jack Arnold said. The collision, which occurred near South Pope Lick Road, was first reported to police on Saturday evening. Bain was pronounced very dead at the scene. The coroner estimated that she fell between eighty and one hundred feet. Her boyfriend survived with no injuries, police say. Arnold said that Bain and her boyfriend were visiting Louisville to take a 'haunted' tour of the Waverly Hills Sanitorium. Before their tour started, they heard about the 'Pope Lick Monster' myth. Curious, the two made their way up to the train tracks when the train 'surprised them.' Bain's boyfriend said that the two realised they couldn't make it to the end of the bridge so they decided to hang off the sides, but Bain did not move fast enough.
Last week, amidst the grief surrounding Prince's death, Twitter decided to kill off Percy Sledge too - despite the fact that had been dead for over a year. Sledge - the soul singer best known for 'When A Man Loves A Woman' - sadly died in April 2015, after a battle with liver cancer. At the time of his death, many tributes poured in from Percy's fans and peers. On Friday of last week however, for reasons one can't quite work out, his name began trending on Twitter and the year-old BBC News story of his death was recirculated. The likes of Samuel L Jackson were among those who appeared to believe that Sledge had only just died. Thankfully, other were quick to point out this error. Several media sites, such as this one, and this one, were also taken in.