Friday, March 31, 2017

Brevity, Tragically, Is Not The Soul Of Twittering

The new series of Doctor Who will see the Time Lord joined by 'his first openly gay companion.' Apart from Captain Jack, obviously. And, possibly Jamie. Anyway, Bill Potts's sexuality will be revealed pretty much straightaway via her second line of dialogue when the show returns on 15 April. 'It shouldn't be a big deal in the Twenty First Century. It's about time isn't it?' yer actual Pearl Mackie, who plays Bill, told the BBC. But, of course, it will be. Expect some homophobic louse of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail to have a good long, loud, shrill and very public whinge about it on general principle, probably including the words 'won't someone think of the children?' It's what they do, dear blog reader, we shouldn't be surprised. 'That representation is important, especially on a mainstream show,' Pearl added. 'It's important to say people are gay, people are black - there are also aliens in the world as well so watch out for them. I remember watching TV as a young mixed race girl not seeing many people who looked like me, so I think being able to visually recognise yourself on screen is important. [Being gay] is not the main thing that defines her character - it's something that's part of her and something that she's very happy and very comfortable with.' Gay and bisexual characters have featured in Doctor Who before, such as Captain Jack and River Song, 'but this is the first time The Doctor's permanent companion has been openly gay,' according to the BBC. 'Although Captain Jack - played by John Barrowman - travelled with the Doctor for a number of episodes, he was not a full-time companion in the traditional sense.' Exactly what the Hell 'the traditional sense' is and who decides how to apply 'the traditional sense' in this particular regard, they didn't say. (There is, in fact, a quite properly superb article by this blogger's old chum Gentleman James Gent at the We Are Cult website on the history of LGBT characters in Doctor Who which this blogger feels it appropriate to urge uponm you, dfear blog reader. Check it out here.) Pearl said it had been 'kind of insane" to be the centre of attention since she was announced in the role last April, despite not being seen on screen until this Easter. My Twitter follower count went from four hundred-and-something to sixteen thousand five hundred in about two hours, so that was pretty mental,' said the actress. 'But it's been really nice, everyone seems to be really excited. It's sort of like being welcomed into a family and all the fans have been really welcoming.' The actress, who was performing in the West End production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-Time at the time she was cast, said the role of Bill was 'the biggest job I've ever done. Looking at previous alumni, it's only done wonderful things for their careers - Matt Smith is phenomenal in The Crown, Jenna Coleman has just gone on to do Victoria and Billie Piper is doing incredible things,' she said. 'For me if I even get to do those kind of things it would be incredible. It's an amazing platform for me and it opens a lot of doors that wouldn't necessarily have been open before - it's very exciting.'
Meanwhile, the Doctor Who Facebook page this week added a new teaser trailer for the forthcoming series. And very tasty it is too.
Sherlock co-creator That There Mark Gatiss has a new project - a series of original dramatic shorts for BBC4 charting 'a century of the UK gay experience.' Grouped together under the title Queers, the eight fifteen-minute monologues begin with The Man On The Platform, set in 1917 and written by Mark his very self. The monologues will be staged at The Old Vic theatre in London in July before their television broadcast. Gatiss said that he was 'thrilled and delighted' to be curating the series. 'It's a marvellous opportunity to celebrate LGBT life and culture, to see how far we have come and how far we still have to go,' he added. Actress and comedienne Jackie Clune and Brian Fillis, the author of An Englishman In New York and The Curse Of Steptoe, will also write pieces for the project. The other five writers - who include Gruniad Morning Star journalist Gareth McLean and former UK poetry slam champion Keith Jarrett - will all be making their TV writing debuts. The pieces will address The Wolfenden Report of 1957, which recommended that homosexuality should not longer be a crime, the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which made gay relationships legal for men aged twenty one and over and the HIV crisis which decimated the gay community in the 1980s. According to BBC4, Queers will 'mark and celebrate some of the most poignant, funny, entertaining, tragic and riotous moments of British gay history and the very personal rites of passage of gay Britons through the last hundred years.' Mark made his name as a member of The League Of Gentlemen and went on to write for and appear in Doctor Who. You knew that, right? He also plays Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock - you knew that, as well, yes? - and was recently seen as a debauched Prince Regent in period drama Taboo.
Fleabag actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge is, apparently, 'the new favourite' to take over from Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who, at least according to the latest inconsequential space-filling fluff-piece from the BBC News website. 'Favourite' with whom, they fail to reveal. Dear blog readers may recall that Kris Marshall had been so hotly tipped to be the next Doctor that bookmakers suspended betting on him getting the role earlier this month. The rumour-mill seemingly went into overdrive when Marshall left the popular BBC drama Death In Paradise just days after Capaldi announced his departure from Doctor Who and lots of people on Twitter - now The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things, of course - put two and two together ... and got nineteen. A truly textbook example of Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, that. As betting has now, seemingly, resumed on the former My Family actor, maybe he's not in the running after all and never was. Expect more - far more - of this kind of utter speculative crap over the next few weeks/months until Chris Chibnall finally names his man. Or woman. Quite where yer actual Keith Telly Topping's own hot tips for the gig - Barry Chuckle and Su Pollard - are currently in the betting is anyone's guess.
For example, cast your mind back but four years, dear blog reader. Two weeks after Matt Smith announced that he was leaving Doctor Who betting was reportedly suspended with Chris Addison described as 'a certainty' for the part. Danny Baker said on his Radio 5Live show 'put your mortgage on Chris Addison, it's a done deal.' Then, two days later, somebody bothered to ask Chris Addison and he said he knew nowt about it. Three weeks after that, betting was suspended again, with Rory Kinnear 'a twenty four carat certainty' for the role. The Daily Torygraph even announced that he had been cast. Then, again, somebody asked Rory Kinnear and he, also, knew nowt about it. The first time that Peter Capaldi was mentioned in relation to the part in public was about three days before he was announced as having been cast, even though he'd actually been given the job about two months prior to that. Mind you, all this talk of betting does bring up the amusing fact that according to at least two bookmakers, Tilda Swinton is going to be the next Doctor. Probably for the same reason that Eddie Izzard always used to get mentioned by the media as a potential Doctor back in the 1990s when various Doctor Who revivals were being mooted. Because, well, 'he's a bit weird! And, The Doctor ... he's a bit weird too.' In the same way that Alan Davies always used to get mentioned as well, mainly because he had long curly hair just like Tom Baker had. You can see exactly the way these people's minds work.
An - admittedly rather cool - design for a Doctor Who t-shirt featuring the last four Doctors is currently being sold by these people for just eighteen of yer actual American dollars. Although, for the majority of readers of this blog in the UK - where, just for reference, Doctor Who is made and first broadcast - the site informs you that the t-shirts are '**NOT SOLD ANYWHERE ELSE**'. In capital letters an'aal so, obviously, you'll have to take their word for it.
Now, dear blog reader, here's a truly awesome thing; Entertainment Weekly succeeded this week in getting the vast majority of the cast of Buffy The Vampire Slayer back together for a twentieth anniversary video event. Only Tony Head was unavailable. They're all ageing magnificently. Well, except for creator and showrunner Joss Whedon, to whom time has not been quite as kind as it has to Charisma Carpenter, Emma Caulfield, Alyson Hannigan, Sarah Michelle Gellar et al.
The final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Seven programmes broadcast, week-ending Sunday 26 March 2017:-
1 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 10.04m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.51m
3 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 7.47m
4 Line Of Duty - Sun BBC1 - 7.40m
5 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 7.30m
6 All Round To rs Brown's - Sat BBc1 - 6.93m
7 Vera - Sun ITV - 6.79m
8 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 6.76m
9 Emmerdale - Tues ITV - 6.68m
10 Red Nose Day - Fri BBC1 - 6.50m
11 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.44m
12 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 6.21m
13 England Friendlies: Germany Versus England - Wed ITV - 5.71m
14 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.43m
15 Prime Suspect 1973 - Thurs ITV - 5.24m
16 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.16m
17 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.06m
18 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.85m
19 World Cup Qualifier: England Versus Lithuania - Sun ITV - 4.55m
20 The Voice - Sat ITV - 4.46m
21 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Wed BBC1 - 4.11m
22 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.00m
23 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 3.84m
24 Shop Well For Lee? - Thurs BBC1 - 3.57m
26 The Great Pottery Throw Down - Thurs BBC2 - 3.34m
27 ITV News - Mon ITV - 3.29m
These consolidated figures, published weekly by 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 on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. The terrorist attack on London on Wednesday accounts for the unusually high figures for the BBC's six and ten o'clock news bulletins on that evening. Television sometimes makes it easy for commentators such as this blogger to be cynical about stuff but, for once a word of genuine praise - isn't it properly great to see two excellent dramas scheduled up against each other on Sunday evening - Line Of Duty and Vera - both pulling in such impressive viewing figures. There's a lot wrong with British TV at the best of times but, the fact that, at the same time, over fourteen million people were watching one or the other of these does, rather, restore ones faith in, at least a portion of, the viewing public. Once again, dear blog reader, this blogger would love to tell you all how many punters were watching the third week of The Nightly Show but, yet again, he can't because not a single one of them registered in ITV's top thirty. A continuing tragedy. On BBC2, the top-rated programme was, again, The Great Pottery Throw Down, followed by Top Gear (3.17 million punters; a small increase from the previous episode and, still, doing just about enough to justify its existence). University Challenge was watched by 3.02 million, Gardeners' World by 2.65 million, Mary Berry Everyday by 2.58 million, The Last Kingdom by 2.24 million and Red Nose Day: Greg Davies' Hot-Tub Half-Hour by 2.21 million. Turkey With Simon Reeve attracted 2.16 million viewers, both The Best Of British Takeaways and Back To The Land With Kate Humble, 1.73 million and Puerto Rico: Island Of Enchantment, 1.64 million. Only Connect was seen by 1.63 million viewers (its new - much criticised - Friday slot is not doing it any favours whatsoever), followed by Pointless (1.59 million), The House That One Hundred Thousand Pounds Built (1.51 million), Great Continental Railway Journeys With Mister Portaloo (1.48 million), Robot Wars (1.45 million), American Justice and Wild Ireland: The Edge Of The World (both 1.42 million) and Dad's Army (1.38 million). Gogglebox was Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast (2.58 million punters), followed by The Royal House Of Windsor (2.07 million), The Secret Life Of The Zoo (1.91 million), Mutiny (1.82 million), F1: Australian Grand Prix Highlights (1.77 million) and Travel Man: Forty Eight Hours In Budapest (1.71 million). Twenty Four Hours In A&E had 1.54 million, both Homeland and Three Wives, One Husband, 1.47 million, The Last Leg With Adam Hills 1.40 million and the badly over-rated Catastrophe, 1.25 million. Yorkshire: A Year In The Wild was Channel Five's top performer with an audience of 1.83 million, ahead of Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away (1.63 million), The Last Days Of George Michael (1.54 million), Police Interceptors (also 1.54 million), The Yorkshire Vet: On Call (1.40 million), The Railway: Inside King's Cross (1.29 million) and GPs: Behind Closed Doors (1.20 million). Tony Robinson: Coast To Coast has 1.13 million whilst NCIS was watched by nine hundred and seventy four thousand. This being an international-break weekend, there was no Premier League action, but coverage of Live World Cup Qualifier: Republic Of Ireland Versus Wales (including, that tackle) on Sky Sports 1 was seen by four hundred and forty six thousand punters whilst the game between Scotland and Slovenia drew two hundred and fifty thousand. On Sky Sports 2, Live Super League attracted one hundred and forty two thousand punters. Further World Cup action, Belgium Versus Greece had one hundred and thirty one thousand (and a further thirty nine thousand on Sky Mix). Gillette Soccer Saturday was top of the pile on Sky Sports News HQ, with two hundred and twenty thousand punters. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by The Flash (eight hundred and sixty nine thousand viewers). NCIS; Los Angeles was seen by eight hundred and twenty three thousand, Hawaii Five-0 by eight hundred and thirteen thousand, Sta Lee's Lucky Man by six hundred and forty two thousand, The Blacklist by six hundred and eleven thousand and DC's Legends Of Tomorrow by five hundred and eighty five thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the second episode of the much-trailed Big Little Lies (six hundred and sixty nine thousand) whilst Blue Bloods was seen by three hundred and seventy nine thousand. Billions had three hundred and thirty five thousand, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, three hundred and thirty five thousand, Fortitude, two hundred and two thousand and Girls, one hundred and sixty two thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of Elementary was seen by nine hundred and eighty thousand whilst Criminal Minds had eight hundred and sixty six thousand, Bones drew seven hundred and seventy one thousand, Grey's Anatomy, five hundred and forty three thousand, Shades of Blue, four hundred and twenty nine thousand and the woeful Scandal, three hundred and seventy one thousand. Sky Arts' Portrait Artist Of The Year was watched by one hundred and thirty three thousand viewers whilst Too Young To Die, had sixty seven thousand and the excellent Passions: Noel Coward By Julian Clary, fifty thousand. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (nine hundred and seventy three thousand viewers). Lewis was seen by six hundred and seventy six thousand and Doc Martin by six hundred and seventy three thousand. World Cup Qualifier: Portugal Versus Hungary headed ITV4's weekly list with five hundred and ninety thousand punters. Benidorm drew three hundred and seventy thousand. ITV Racing attracted two hundred and ninety four thousand. ITV2's most-watched broadcasts were for the return for a truly depressing seventeenth series of worthless pile of festering vomit Z-List Celebrity Juice (1.24 million morons who should be given free help on the NHS, frankly). Family Guy (seven hundred and eighty five thousand) and Ibiza (six hundred and seventy thousand) came next. Unforgotten headed ITV Encore's top ten with fifty one thousand viewers, followed by Scott & Bailey (fifty thousand) and DCI Banks (forty six thousand). The Only Way Is Essex was seen by nine hundred and fifty thousand of the sort of people who enjoy this risible exercise in z-list-celebrity-by-non-entity on ITVBe. Enough said, really. BBC4's list was topped by Horizon (eight hundred and eight thousand viewers) and Inside Porton Down: Britain's Secret Weapons Research Facility (six hundred and forty nine thousand). Next came Follow The Money (five hundred and forty one thousand), Britain's Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield (five hundred and ten thousand), The Golden Age of Steam Railways (four hundred and seventy six thousand) and the movie Billy Elliot (four hundred and sixty thousand). Henry VII - Patron Or Plunderer? was watched by four hundred and fifty two thousand, Rock 'N' Roll America, by four hundred and twenty two thousand and Chuck Berry In Concert, by four hundred and eleven thousand. All of whom were, perhaps, reelin' and a rockin'. As well they should have been. 5USA's Person Of Interest was viewed by six hundred and forty five thousand viewers, NCIS by four hundred and seventy five thousand and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit by four hundred and sixteen thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly most-watch programme lists of Channel Five, CBS Action (ninety seven thousand) and FOX (seven hundred hundred and sixty two thousand viewers). Mission: Impossible headed CBS Action's list with one hundred and one thousand. The latest episode of The Walking Dead topped FOX's viewing figures with 1.50 million. Bull had four hundred and thirty six thousand. The really disappointing 24: Legacy continued to shed viewers with four hundred and thirty four thousand (and the sound of Jack Bauer turning in his grave) whilst Legion was seen by two hundred and thirty six thousand. The Universal Channel's Major Crimes attracted three hundred and seventeen thousand and Chicago Med, two hundred and fifty thousand. On Dave, Not Going Out was watched by three hundred and seventy four thousand viewers. Alan Davies: As Yet Unfunny drew three hundred and forty five thousand, followed by Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and ten thousand) and Qi XL (three hundred and nine thousand). The latest episode of Drama's Australian import The Brokenwood Mysteries was watched by four hundred and eighty six thousand viewers. New Tricks was seen by four hundred and sixty seven thousand and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, by four hundred and twenty four thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programmes was Quantico (two hundred and eighty thousand) whilst Murdoch Mysteries had one hundred and sixty one thousand, Father Brown, one hundred thousand, Sue Thomas FB Eye, eighty two thousand and Miss Marple, eighty thousand. On The Sony Channel, the movies Godzilla and Jumanji, were seen by sixty one thousand and forty four thousand respectively. Hustle drew forty three thousand. Yesterday's Abandoned Engineering continued with two hundred and eighty five thousand and The Russian Revolution In Colour was seen by two hundred and ten thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was watched by three hundred and four thousand viewers. Fast N' Loud had two hundred and seventy three thousand. Alaskan Bush People was seen by two hundred and seven thousand and The Wheel by one hundred and twelve thousand whilst Diesel Brothers drew eighty five thousand. Episodes of From The North favourite Wheeler Dealers topped the weekly lists of both Discovery Shed (twenty nine thousand) and Discovery Turbo (forty three thousand). Discovery History's Special Forces' Secrets headed the top ten-list with thirty thousand. Time Team attracted twenty six thousand, as did Archery: Tales Of The Bow. Waterloo: The Ultimate Battle was watched by twenty thousand. On Discovery Science, How It's Made was seen by eighty one thousand viewers. On Quest, Salvage Hunters was watched by three hundred and sixty nine thousand and yet another episode of Wheeler Dealers attracted two hundred and forty two thousand. Pick's Motorway Patrol had two hundred and forty thousand, Britain's Most Evil & Naughty Killers drew two hundred and thirty eight thousand and Nothing To Declare had two hundred and thirty thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by Car SOS which drew one hundred and seventy four thousand viewers, Supercar Megabuild: Aston (eighty seven thousand) and Bugging Hitler's Army (seventy eight thousand). National Geographic Wild's Africa's Hunters was watched by fifty one thousand. Snakes In The City was seen by thirty one thousand. The History Channel's weekly list was topped by Forged In Fire (two hundred and three thousand) and Black Sails (one hundred and thirty three thousand). On Military History, Alien Files Unsealed was watched by thirty one thousand punters. Crimes That Shook The Living Bejesus Out Of Australia, Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath, Escaping Evil: My Life With A Cult and Usual Suspects were Crime & Investigation's top-rated programmes with forty three thousand, forty thousand, thirty eight thousand and thirty eight thousand blood-and-snots-lovers, respectively. It's a reet good laugh, is CI. Who Killed Jane Doe?, Evil Lives Here, Murder Comes To Town and Grave Secrets headed Investigation Discovery's list (ninety thousand, sixty four thousand, sixty four thousand and fifty six thousand). It is unknown if it was exactly the same sixty four thousand punters that were watching Evil Lives Here and Murder Comes To Town. Stranger things have happened. That horse becoming Pope, for one. Sorry, that's an old Blackadder joke. Next ... GOLD's repeat run of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted one hundred and ninety six thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for The Middle (two hundred and eighty nine thousand). Your TV's repeat of Bones series six continued with an audience of ninety eight thousand. On More4, Homes By The Med was the highest-rated programme with four hundred and three thousand. Grand Designs attracted three hundred and eighty six thousand punters and Walks With My Dog, three hundred and fifty six thousand. E4's list was topped, as usual, by The Big Bang Theory, the latest episode attracting 2.27 million viewers, by an 'uge distance the largest multi-channels audience of the week. Made In Chelsea drew 1.23 million viewers and Hollyoaks, 1.06 million. The Horror Channel's broadcast of Reeker attracted eighty eight thousand. The top-ten list also included The Breed (eighty six thousand), Virus (seventy seven thousand), Cockneys Versus Zombies (seventy four thousand) and The Mist (sixty nine thousand). Sleepy Hollow, headed Syfy's top-ten with one hundred and forty eight thousand. The movie version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was seen by sixty thousand and Star Trek: The Next Generation, by fifty eight thousand. Planet Earth was watched by thirty eight thousand on Eden whilst Life On Earth: A New Prehistory attracted thirty six thousand viewers. Finding Bigfoot and Alaska: The Last Frontier were the Animal Planet's most-watched programme both with thirty five thousand and thirty four thousand respectively. Grimm on W drew six hundred and thirty eight thousand punters whilst Code Black drew two hundred and seventy four thousand. On the True Crime channel, Killer Kids was watched by twenty two thousand punters. True Entertainment's M*A*S*H was watched by one hundred and forty seven thousand. Embarrassing Bodies drew thirty nine thousand on London Live. Rick Stein's German Bite and MasterChef: The Professionals attracted by seventy seven thousand and sixty two thousand respectively on Good Food. TLC's list was headed by Say Yes To The Dress (one hundred and twenty nine thousand). Ex On The Beach on MTV was viewed by seven hundred and thirty nine thousand.

More than one hundred and fifty whinging whingers have whinged like a bunch of dirty stinking Copper's Narks to the TV watchdog Ofcom about the Comic Relief telethon. Most of these whinging whingers 'took issue' with the content of Friday's show. Ofcom is now considering whether to launch an investigation and, if not, whether to publicly name and shame these individuals for their grassing ways. Language used before the watershed by Steve Coogan, a game of Innuendo Bingo and a sketch featuring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have come in for particular criticism. From, to repeat, whinging whingers. The BBC pointed to the fact that the event has raised more than seventy three million quid for charity so far. Which, although entirely laudable, if that's their sole excuse rather than 'this is artistic impression, if you don't like it either switch over or grow the fek up, preferably both' - does rather bring to mind Alexei Sayle's memorable comments on the subject of charriddee. 'Oh, it's for charity? That's all right then ... If Hitler had invaded Poland for spina bifida, it would have been all right!' Just sayin'. One of the most allegedly 'controversial' moments of Comic Relief saw Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer - as their Donald and Davey Stott characters - interview TV presenter Susanna Reid - with Reeves apparently brandishing a prosthetic penis from under his kilt. Which was funny. Another moment that sparked social media whinging was Russell Brand swearing live on-air after a technical glitch. Others complained about sound problems - but Ofcom said that most of the whinges it had received were about the content of the broadcast, rather than any technical issues. Ofcom said: 'We have received one hundred and fifty one complaints about Comic Relief 2017 on the BBC. We will assess these complaints before deciding whether or not to investigate.' The BBC declined to say how many people had whinged directly to the corporation. Mainly because it's nobody else's business. A BBC spokesperson said: 'The Red Nose Day 2017 broadcast was a live studio environment enjoyed by a peak overnight audience of 7.6 million which raised over seventy three million pounds. This will go a huge way to help improve the lives of many people both here in the UK and in some of the world's poorest countries.'
Friday's semi-final of From The North favourite Only Connect provided a textbook example that, sometimes, you can over-think things. The musical round of the episode featured 'John Wayne Is Big Leggy' by Haysi Fantayzee, 'E=MC²' by Big Audio Dynamite, 'Don't You Forget About Me' by Simple Minds and 'Wonderwall' by Oasis. 'Oh, I've definitely got this,' thought yer actual Keith Telly Topping. 'It's to do with movies in some way. The first one is obvious, the second is a song about the films of Nic Roeg, the third was the theme tune to John Hughes's The Breakfast Club and Wonderwall was, also, the title of a 1960s movie by Joe Massot.' Tragically, the actual answer proved to be far more straightforward!
Professor Brian Cox (no, the other one) may know his way around a Higgs Boson Particle and a dirty geet black hole (steady), but how did he fare on Postman Pat's home turf of Greendale? This week Coxy appeared on the CBeebies cartoon series as Professor Ryan Farrow, a space expert 'friend' of Greendale's resident inventor, Ted Glen. The professor's arrival was especially big news for Pat his very self, who has always wanted to be an astronaut. Postman Pat & The Space Suit was broadcast on Wednesday and pictures were released by the BBC ahead of the episode featuring Brian holding models of Postman Pat and Jess - as well as one of how he would appear himself in animated form.
And, speaking of Foxy Coxy his very self, he seems to have been virtually omnipresent of TV of late; along with a couple of million other delighted viewers this blogger has been glued to the latest series of Stargazing Live for three nights this week. But, regular Stargazing presenters Brian, Dara O'Briain and Liz Bonnin aside, the really big bonus of the current series from Down Under has been the, if you will, literal star-making appearances of Aussie astronomy Greg Quicke. Madly enthusiastic, with speech patterns that are a straight cross between wide-eyed hippy wonder and good ol' Aussie blokie plus a beard that'd get him a gig with ZZ Top any day, Greg has been a terrific addition to the usual crew.
TV Comedy Moment Of The Week (by a mile): From BBC4's much-anticipated Brian Pern: A Tribute on Wednesday. A temporary floral shrine had been erected by devastated Thotch fans outside Brian's old gaff, at number twenty nine. Only for Angus Deayton to open the door at yell at the camera: 'He lived at number thirty seven, now fuck off!' and angrily kick a photo of Pern off his doorstep! It's what he would have wanted. Probably.
And, on that bombshell, here's a video of two kittens ringing a bell for food.
Planet Earth II was a hit with viewers when it was broadcast last year - and now it seems to have impressed BAFTA as well. The BBC nature documentary has received nine nominations ahead of its annual Craft Awards, which celebrate behind-the-scenes talent in television. Netflix drama The Crown followed with seven nominations, while the BBC's The Night Manager achieved six. The winners will be announced on 23 April, three weeks ahead of the BAFTA Television Awards on 14 May.
The Nightly Show could return for a second series, the Radio Times claim. According to alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - ITV 'sources', the much-pilloried evening satire show 'could return' once its initial eight-week run finishes next month. The series has struggled disastrously in the ratings and attracted critical opprobrium. But, allegedly 'senior' ITV 'sources' allegedly say that director of programmes Kevin Lygo 'is prepared to give it another chance.' Whilst no formal decision has yet been made, one option said to be 'under consideration' is bringing it back in September for eight more weeks. This would give it a rest over the summer and offer the channel a chance to 'overhaul the format' with 'a substantial revamp.' Another alleged - though, again, anonymous - 'source' allegedly suggested that the autumn 'may be too early' and that if it does return it will be early next year. An alleged ITV spokesman allegedly 'declined to comment' on the claims but told Radio Times that a decision on The Nightly Show's future 'had not yet been made. We will make a decision on a recommission once the series is completed,' the alleged spokesman allegedly said. It is unclear whether, if it does continue, it will still have a rotating host or install a permanent presenter for any potential new run. So far the presenting line-up has seen weekly duties taken by David Walliams, John Bishop, Davina McCall, Dermot O'Dreary and Gordon Ramsay. Bradley Walsh will host the show next week, with two more guest presenters to follow. Neither is it clear whether a second run would be broadcast at 10pm where it has supplanted the ITV evening news or take up a new berth at 10:30pm. The audience for the news has dropped considerably since it was moved to the later time of 10:30pm. Supplier ITN is likely to react badly to the return of The Nightly Show, especially if it takes over the 10pm slot again. 'Morale would be sorely affected,' said one - anonymous and, therefore, also probably fictitious - ITN journalist. 'I wouldn't be surprised if some of the news presenters actually walked. We were under the impression that it would finish in three weeks and not come back.' As, indeed, was everybody else.

The government is launching a consultation on whether to move Channel Four out of London, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Bradley has announced. But, the prospect of privatisation is now 'off the table,' meaning Channel Four will remain publicly owned. For the time-being. The vile and odious rascal Bradley said in a speech on Wednesday that the government wants the 'benefits of this national asset to be spread far and wide.' The Outer Hebrides? A Channel Four spokesman - after he had changed his underwear - said that 'a substantial relocation' would be 'highly damaging.' Only thirty of Channel Four's eight hundred and twenty staff are currently based outside of London. Most of them, of course, don't even realise that there is anywhere outside London. The vile and odious rascal Bradley made the speech at the Nations and Regions conference in Salford. Which is outside of London. Co-incidence? 'We want the benefits of this national asset to be spread far and wide, not just in London,' the vile and odious rascal Bradley said. 'That means rethinking where it is based, and where it spends money. I am unsympathetic towards those who recoil in horror at the very idea of media jobs being based outside the capital.' So, in that case, should we expect the Cabinet Office to be relocating to Boston, Lincolnshire in the near future? Though, the thought of that Middle Class hippy Communist Jon Snow - hero of Gruniad Morning Star readers everywhere - introducing Channel Four News from a small broom-cupboard in Northampton is, undeniably, delicious. A spokesman for Channel Four said: 'Bloody Hell, Barnsley? Can you get a Tall, Non-Fat Latte With A Caramel Drizzle up there?' Well, no, he didn't, actually. But, it would have been pure-dead brilliant if he had. 'The most important factor in supporting the nations and regions is where we spend our money rather than where Channel Four is headquartered,' he said. Which if you look up 'statements that really mean "I don't wanna leave here and go Oop North"' on Google, you'll find that one pretty near the top. 'A substantial relocation would be highly damaging to Channel Four's business model and diminish our investment in the creative industries around the UK and our overall contribution to the UK economy.'
Netflix comedy shows are more popular in Scotland and Wales than anywhere else in the UK, while fantasy dramas are watched most in the Midlands, according to data released by the streaming service. Dramas including The Crown and House Of Cards are most in demand within London - mainly by Gruniad Morning Star readers rather than, you know, normal people - while viewers in the North-East are the most likely to choose horror programming, such as American Horror Story, or any footage of the defences of our football teams, compared with other parts of Britain. Viewers in Northern Ireland also opt for dramas over any other genre, tuning into shows such as Suits, Sons Of Anarchy and The Good Wife. Netflix analysed viewing by UK subscribers from October 2016 to March this year to find which region was most inclined to watch a specific genre. Documentaries such as Amanda Knox and Making A Murderer are getting the biggest audience in the North-West where reality shows such as RuPaul's Drag Race and Hell's Kitchen are also popular, while romantic shows appealing to younger viewers, such as Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl and Skins, are most popular in the South-East. Futuristic and SF dramas including Stranger Things, yer actual Doctor Who and Marvel's Daredevil hold the biggest appeal in the South-West. Comedy shows that have proved popular in Scotland include the Glaswegian based Still Game, Orange Is The New Black and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, while in Wales the wretchedly unfunny Gavin & Stacey, which was partly set in Barry, and The Big Bang Theory, are hits. Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer at Netflix, said Breaking Bad was 'the crucial show' that helped the streaming service break in to the UK. He said: 'Breaking Bad was a breaking point for Netflix in the UK when we started premiering new episodes. It accelerated our business and became the way they identified with us. They didn't need to know how Netflix worked, they just wanted to see Breaking Bad. So it was exciting for us to do that and then premiere Better Call Saul.' Sarandos said that he was 'proud' of the global platform the streaming service had been able to give Charlie Brooker's satirical drama Black Mirror since it moved to Netflix from Channel Four. 'We took Black Mirror and shows that were conceived as local shows and made them more global. Charlie Brooker is a real genius and we were able to give him a bigger canvas to work on, to make Black Mirror into what it has become, which is a real global sensation. I would say it was a UK hit and a global cult before. It's now a global hit.'
National heartthrob David Tennant says that his latest play is being 'constantly tweaked' to feature topical jokes - because the news keeps producing 'such good material.' Davey plays the debauched lead character in Don Juan In Soho. Patrick Marber's acclaimed play - first produced in 2006 - has been updated and now includes references to US President (and hairdo) Donald Trump and vlogging. Speaking after Tuesday's opening night, Tennant revealed that Marber had written a line about the Daily Scum Mail's controversial Legs-it headline - see below - but it didn't make the show. 'We chickened out at the last second!' he told the BBC. 'We are sprinkling occasional contemporary references as we go. We add them on the day. Prince George is in his third day now. George Osborne lasted for a weekend. Donald Trump is in there.' Davey added: 'Obviously it has to relate to Don Juan and his world view. He's got this fury about the hypocrisy of the world that he's in. The world keeps presenting itself with fresh material and we can't really resist.' Marber's play is a loose adaptation of Moliere's Seventeenth Century tragi-comedy Don Juan which transports the legendary womaniser to contemporary London.
And, yer actual David Tennant is also reported to be very suing the owners of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World over alleged phone-hacking. Good for him. Hope he wins loads. His lawyers issued a claim for compensation at the High Court in London on Thursday. Law firm Collyer Bristow said that it was representing nine people in total, including former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine. They said that other law firms have also issued claims this week. Previous phone-hacking cases against News Group have focused on the Scum of the World, but lawyers acting for claimants in the ongoing action have successfully argued that any trial should, additionally, consider whether phone-hacking took place at the Sun. They have also asked the court to order News Group owner News UK, which replaced News International, to hand over e-mails from the accounts of executives including James Murdoch The Small and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks which, they suggest, could prove allegations that there was 'an attempt to cover up' the scale of phone-hacking.
News UK, which owned the paper until it closed - in shame and ignominy - in 2011, declined to comment. Collyer Bristow said its clients had been left with 'no alternative' following the closure of a compensation scheme. It said that the Scum of the World had previously 'admitted and apologised for hacking into the voicemails of a number of high-profile individuals' and opened a compensation scheme in 2011 as 'an alternative to litigation.' Albeit, it only did all of that after several year of public denials that any of that-there hacking had gone on under its roof or that, if any had, it had been the work of 'a sole rogue individual.' But, Collyer Bristow said that the compensation scheme closed 'after less than eighteen months of operation.' The Scum of the World was shut down by owner billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch following the revelation that the phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and other victims of crime and their relatives had been hacked. The scandal also led to the establishment of The Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, for all the good that did, an MPs' inquiry and the launch of three police investigations into alleged widespread phone-hacking and corruption. Former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson - who later became director of communications and 'close personal chum' for then Prime Minister David Cameron - was extremely jailed for eighteen months for conspiracy to hack phones. Steven Heffer, who is acting on behalf of the claimants, said: 'My firm continues to act for a number of clients with claims against News Group arising out of phone-hacking and other unlawful activities. News Group withdrew its compensation scheme in 2013, giving no proper explanation for this move and has failed to compensate victims despite all attempts by lawyers to settle cases out of court.' The firm says that it has now acted for 'more than two hundred victims of hacking and unlawful surveillance.' Collyer Bristow said that other claimants would include Fran Cutler, Jess Morris, Tanya Frayne, Sophia Myles and Rob Gros.
A cross-party group of MPs has robustly defended the BBC, after another group accused it of 'biased Brexit coverage.' Earlier this month - as reported by this very blog - a letter from the odious right-wing scum MP Julian Knight, supported by seventy - mainly Tory - MPs, accused the BBC of a biased and expressing 'pessimistic' views about the future of Britain under Brexit. But the counter letter - signed by eighty five MPs and MEPs - called on the corporation to 'defend its independence.' And to stand up to these crass, ignorant bullies and their louse-scum lickerty-split mates at the Daily Torygraph and the Daily Scum Mail where Knight's letter was first printed.
They urged the BBC 'not to succumb to pressure to skew' coverage by lice with a sick-agenda smeared all over their disgusting faces. The letter, to Director General Tony Hall, warned of 'an authoritarian attempt to force people to accept a single version of events.' Labour MP Pat McFadden, who co-ordinated the response, said: 'This letter is a strong statement of support for the BBC to be free to do its job to report fearlessly and impartially. The reason the BBC is respected as a news source around the world is precisely because it is independent. And at a time when those who ask fair and tough questions are being denounced, that independence and impartiality is more important than ever.' Sadly McFadden didn't also take the opportunity to publicly name and shame the three members of his own party who were, it seems, so happy to get into bed with the Tory scum over this issue.
Reggie Yates's Hidden Australia was meant to be 'a hard-hitting look at the derivations and inequalities suffered by the country's indigenous people.'However the BBC3 programme broke accuracy rules by 'playing fast and loose with footage' filmed last year in the New South Wales town of Wilcannia. A party scene purportedly shot on a single night was actually filmed at four separate gatherings. The BBC Trust said that it was 'a serious breach of its editorial guidelines.' It also said that the BBC would not be commissioning any new programmes from Sundog Pictures - an independent production company co-founded by Sir Richard Branson's son, Sam - 'until further notice.' Broadcast in January, Hidden Australia: Black In The Outback portrayed extreme drinking among the Aboriginal community as rife. What it didn't make clear was that it cut together footage filmed on separate days, some of it at a wake for a member of that community. The BBC said that it had 'not been informed' before broadcast and 'only became aware' when Australia's ABC network wrote a story on the matter. The Trust said that it was 'deeply troubled' by what it described as 'a grave lack of judgement by those concerned with the production.' The findings did not mention Addicted To Ice, the second Hidden Australia film, which is still available on iPlayer.
The BBC has grovellingly apologised after one of its longest-serving presenters appeared to promote Brut aftershave on Radio 4's Today programme. In a broadcast, which prompted a flurry of complaints on social media - if not anywhere more important - was by the sports presenter Garry Richardson, a thirty five-year veteran of the programme. He ended an interview with the England cricketer, Jimmy Anderson, on Thursday with a line more typically heard on commercial radio. 'Jimmy Anderson, who was speaking to us in conjunction with Brut aftershave, who he is an ambassador for,' he said at the end of the clip. Which, in and of itself, is horrifying. It should have been 'for whom he is an ambassador' not 'who he is an ambassador for.' What the Hell are they teaching people at Broadcasting House these days? The BBC was quick to distance itself from the remark. A spokeswoman said: 'This was a mistake. It should not have happened. We apologise and the programme's sport production team is being reminded of the editorial guidelines on product prominence.' The guidelines say the BBC must 'avoid any undue prominence which gives the impression that we are promoting or endorsing products, organisations or services.' Or, at least, that anyone mentioning such a specific product should also make it clear that 'other stuff you splash on all over and makes you smell like Henry Copper after he's gone six rounds with Kevin Keegan are available. We recommend Hai-Karate, as it gets you chased by Valerie Leon.'
A dog that mauled its owner to death whilst he was being interviewed by a BBC film crew had attacked him before, a neighbour has claimed. The man, named locally as Mario Perivoitos, was with the film crew at his home in Wood Green on 20 March when his Staffordshire bull terrier attacked, biting him in the neck and killing him stone dead. The crew called an ambulance and the man was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced extremely dead two hours later, the Metropolitan police confirmed. A neighbour - who gave his name as Tayfun - claimed on Wednesday that the dog had previously attacked Perivoitos. 'There were one or two previous occasions when the dog attacked,' he said. 'Six or seven months ago the dog bit him on the leg. We heard him shout at the dog and he came running out with blood on his leg.' Despite this, he said that Perivoitos 'loved the dog more than himself.' The neighbour also claimed that the dog was 'generally quiet,' adding: 'I never saw the dog be vicious.' The crew have not been identified and the BBC declined to say exactly what the documentary was about. The police said it was 'entirely unrelated to the Met's BBC documentary,' referring to the series The Met: Policing London, the second series of which has recently finished filming. The reporters, a man in his twenties and a woman in her thirties, were 'interviewed under caution' at a London police station earlier this week, the police said, because the property had been subjected to 'a temporary closure order.'  The order prevented anyone but the occupier from entering for three months and was intended to stop people taking drugs or 'engaging in anti-social behaviour' on the premises. The crew were released after police ascertained that they 'were not there for those purposes and, therefore, it would not be in the public interest to pursue the matter further.' Nor, indeed, the interests of the film crew who were, presumably, bricking in their own keks at this point. Neighbours in the block said that Perivoitos was believed to have lived in the building for more than twenty years. Geoff Morgan, who was at home at the time of the attack, 'heard a commotion' coming from a flat below him. He said: 'I heard shouting: "Get him off! Get him off me!" He was shouting really loudly. He was bleeding from his neck. There was a lot of blood.' Other residents described Perivoitos as 'a chaotic and disruptive neighbour.' Several windows of his flat were boarded over and the order banning him from having visitors was taped to the front door. 'A lot of people were coming in there,' claimed one neighbour who gave his name as Pierre. 'There would be fighting, sometimes shouting. A couple of times the police had to come. They even broke the door down.' 'At one point it was a crack house,' alleged Tayfun. 'There were so many of them smoking. There were needles everywhere.' He claimed that there had 'recently' been efforts to get Perivoitos out of the building. 'Then, two or three weeks later, one day we woke up and he wasn't there any more.' Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said that when the incident took place there 'seemed nothing out of the ordinary' about hearing screaming from upstairs. 'We're normally hearing screaming so it wasn’t like, "alert the police!"' she said. 'He was a drug user; you could tell.' On the night the dog attacked, she heard screams of 'Help! Get the dog,' she said. 'Everybody knows he's on drugs but no matter how he was, he didn't deserve to die like that.' Perivoitos had been alone in the flat since his mother went into a care home last year, she said, adding that neighbours had 'speculated' the dog had been trying to protect him. 'He loved his dog. His dog was his world. If he went out, you could hear the dog crying. He looked after his dog: if he didn't have money he was always asking me for money to get it dog food, so it seems really strange.' She added: 'He was a clever boy. He used to fix my computers but he got in with the wrong crowd.' Another friend reportedly said that Perivoitos had two master's degrees, one in philosophy. The dog was seized and is currently in secure kennels awaiting sentence of death. Staffordshire bull terriers are not a banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act - indeed, this blogger's brother owns one. Lovely animal it is too and, has never once bitten any members of the Telly Topping family to death. A postmortem examination carried out last Friday in Haringey gave Perivoitos's cause of death as hypovolemic shock – a condition caused by massive blood loss – and damage to the airway consistent with a dog ripping his throat open. The BBC said: 'A crew making a BBC documentary were present – but not filming – at the time of the incident and called an ambulance. Given the ongoing inquiries, it would not be appropriate to comment further.' The Met said: 'A film crew making a documentary were present during the incident and called the London ambulance service. They are assisting police with their inquiries as officers prepare a report for the coroner.' Had any footage of the incident existed no doubt it would have turned up on the next episode of It'll Be Alright On The Night.
A Seventeenth Century 'Shakespearean notebook' with 'enormous scholarly value' has been described as one of the most remarkable items to ever feature on the Antiques Roadshow. The tiny pad, featuring 'scientific scholarly notes' written during the Bard's lifetime, left manuscripts specialist Matthew Haley 'trembling.' The notebook is believed to have come from the collection of the Eighteenth Century antiquarian John Loveday of Caversham. It will be shown on Sunday's episode of the long-running antiques show. The book was found by the five times great grandson of Loveday among his mother's belongings. Haley said that it included 'detailed notes in Latin' and suggested the jottings could have been the work of a student analysing the playwright's work. 'There is so much research that can be done on this item,' said Haley, who appraised the item at Caversham Park in Berkshire. 'It's amazing, it's almost completely illegible, but you can pick out the odd word and you can pick out phrases that appear in Shakespeare.' He said that it was 'one of the best things' he had seen on the programme 'by a fairly good stretch. I was completely knocked for six,' he added.
A suspected unexploded World War Two bomb discovered on the banks of the River Thames could threaten the university Boat Race. The find was made near Putney Bridge, west London, a day before the one hundred and sixty third Oxford versus Cambridge race. No decision will be made until Sunday on possible 'changes to the event.' The device is submerged and a bomb disposal unit will have to wait until the tide goes out in order to take a better look at it, police said. The Thames river tide receded at about 1am. Organisers will meet police later on Sunday to decide if the race will be affected. The Met said that it was 'too early' to say whether the race would be called off. Crowds of up to three hundred thousand people are expected if it goes ahead. Spectators have been warned to 'be vigilant' following the attack at Westminster, reported the Torygraph. And, if they see any bombs shout 'it's a fuckin' bomb!' at the top of their voice so that authorities can be alerted. 'The security threat level remains at severe and, as always, we would encourage those attending to be aware of their surroundings and be vigilant,' the Met said in a statement. The Met confirmed that officers were 'in attendance' on the Northern bank of the river at Chelsea. Michelle Dite, the race director of the Boat Race, said: 'At this stage the races will go ahead as planned. Any decisions regarding changes to the event will be made in conjunction with the police. No decision will be made today.' The bomb was reportedly 'found by a passing sailor' - with sounds mighty suspicious, frankly - and was located on the Chelsea bank of the river on the North side of Putney Bridge.
A gang of knuckle-scraping-the-ground numbskull glakes who attacked a teenage asylum seeker in Croydon on Friday have been described as 'scum' by the area's MP. Which, frankly, is an insult to perfectly ordinary scum. The Kurdish Iranian boy, aged seventeen, was waiting with two friends at a bus stop in Shrublands Road when he was 'set upon' by about eight people. MP Gavin Barwell said: 'It's an appalling crime and I hope the people responsible receive the full force of British justice.' Police said that four men and two women were extremely arrested on Saturday night. The attack took place at about 11:40pm when it is believed the attackers asked the boy where he was from. They then chased him down the road before repeatedly kicking him as he lay on the ground. His friends suffered minor injuries in the attack but the boy is reported to have sustained a fractured skull and a blood clot on his brain. Police said he was taken to a South London hospital where he remains in a 'serious but stable' condition. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening and officers are in the process of informing next of kin. Police are investigating if the gang had been drinking in a pub called The Goat in Broom Road prior to the attack. Officers made a series of arrests in Croydon on Saturday night and are questioning three men aged twenty, another man aged twenty four, and two women. They were all held on suspicion of attempted murder or violent disorder, the Metropolitan Police said. Speaking about the attack, Chief Suptintendant Jeff Boothe said: 'A number of bystanders and eyewitnesses tried to intervene and say to the attackers that enough is enough. By all accounts they didn't actually stop until the sound of police sirens were heard in the background.' Barwell, the Conservative housing minister and MP for Croydon Central, said: 'I think most people in Croydon will be as appalled as I am that what appears to have happened is a young man who came to this country seeking sanctuary has apparently been targeted because of his ethnic background. It's an appalling crime and I hope the people responsible are caught quickly and receive the full force of British justice.' Boothe said: 'Hate crime is something which we understand can be very, very divisive. Croydon is culturally diverse and we need to continue to celebrate that. We are appealing to all decent people from whatever background they come from to help us identify the individuals that are involved in this isolated attack.'
Football's governing body FIFA has 'passed on' further evidence to Swiss and United States authorities as it completed its internal investigation into alleged corruption. It has been co-operating with law enforcement since May 2015 when FIFA members were arrested in Zurich. 'We have now completed that investigation and handed the evidence over to the authorities,' said FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Criminal investigations are currently ongoing. FIFA says reports of more than thirteen hundred pages were produced after the review of more than two-and-a-half million documents and interviews with 'key witnesses.' There were also more than twenty thousand pages of exhibits. These were all shared with the Swiss authorities, according to the governing body. Infantino said THAT the investigation was carried out 'to hold wrongdoers within football accountable and co-operate with the authorities.' He added: 'The authorities will continue to pursue those who enriched themselves.' It added that from its findings it will make changes to its internal departments which will be revealed at the end of April. In May 2015, Swiss authorities raided a Zurich hotel and extremely arrested seven people who were among fourteen indicted on corruption charges in an inquiry led by the United States Department of Justice. In December that year, sixteen more officials were charged following the arrest of two FIFA vice-presidents in at the same hotel in Zurich. FIFA's internal inquiry may be at an end, but questions persist as to the level and depth of corruption that allegedly took place over many years. The review, led by FIFA's lawyers, was designed to assure the US Department of Justice that the governing body was a co-operative partner in unearthing the grubby truth. The results have now been passed to the Swiss Attorney General and will make their way to Washington DC from there. But the wheels of justice grind agonisingly slowly. It may be many years before any subsequent charges are brought or cases concluded and the guilty brought to justice. In the meantime, criminal investigations continue into a number of individuals along with the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments. There's also an uneasy silence hanging over allegations of bribery surrounding South Africa's successful bid to host the 2010 tournament. The whole truth may emerge someday. Just don't expect it to be delivered any time soon.
FIFA is proposing a six-nation play-off tournament to decide the last two slots at the forty eight-team World Cup in 2026. Football's world governing body has revealed its plans for how the forty eight places will be allocated, with sixteen Europeans teams set to qualify. The proposals - approved by FIFA's president and his counterparts at the six confederations - are expected to be ratified by the FIFA Council on 9 May. FIFA members voted in January to expand the World Cup from the current thirty two teams to forty eight. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he was 'satisfied' with the proposals and that European nations would be 'fairly represented.' All six confederations will have at least one team in the expanded tournament, with no inter-confederation play-offs prior to the play-off tournament. The World Cup hosts will still qualify automatically, with their slot taken from their confederation's quota. Should the proposals be ratified, as expected, it will consist of one team from each confederation except UEFA, with the final team taken from the confederation of the host country. Two teams will be seeded based on their FIFA ranking and then face the winners of two knockout games involving the four unseeded teams, with the prize a place in the World Cup. The play-off will be played in the World Cup's host country, with November 2025 suggested as a possible date for the 2026 qualifying play-off. It will also double as a test event for the main tournament. UEFA has achieved its stated aim of sixteen slots. Ceferin made it clear that would be his demand in return for supporting an expanded tournament. Ratification will likely be straightforward given the heads of the confederations have carved this up between them. The play-off tournament, however, is a new idea. It may sound the death knell for the Confederations Cup given FIFA has described the new tournament as a test event. FIFA is keen to expand the Club World Cup as a summer tournament and moving the qualifying tournament to November may create the necessary space in an already packed schedule. There are some significant issues still to be resolved in qualification processes, though. Conmebol (the South America confederation) has been granted six slots in the expanded World Cup. Given there are only ten countries in the confederation, questions have been raised over how to make qualification an attractive proposition to broadcasters, given the ease with which some countries will qualify. The recommended places for each confederation are: Africa - nine (up from five); Asia - eight (up from four or five); Europe - sixteen (up from thirteen); North and Central America and Caribbean - six (up from three or four); Oceania - one (from zero or one); South America - six (up from four or five)
Barcelona will honour their former player and coach Johan Cruyff with a statue of him at the Nou Camp stadium. The club will also name the new stadium which they are currently building for their B team after the former Dutch international, in this blogger's completely arbitrary opinion, the greatest footballer that ever lived. Barcelona made the announcement one day after the first anniversary of Johan's death at the age of sixty eight. Cruyff won thirteen trophies during his time coaching and playing for the club, including their first European Cup in 1992. His son, Jordi, also said that the family will donate a number nine Barcelona shirt worn by his father and the Ballon d'Or trophy from 1974 to a new exhibition at the Spanish club's museum. 'It is an agreement by which my father will always be present at the club that he loved,' Jordi Cruyff said. Barcelona, who are scheduled to start major redevelopment work at the Nou Camp in 2018, will also ask the city's council to name a street or space in the vicinity of their stadium after Johan Cruyff. 'It is an honour for me to say the name of the stadium we are building at the training ground will no longer be the Miniestadi, but from now on will be The Johan Cruyff Stadium,' club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said. 'Cruyff broke down barriers, he was the man who made us lift our heads up and see that nothing is impossible.'
Republic of Ireland skipper Seamus Coleman has had surgery following a horrific leg break in last Friday's goalless draw against Wales. The Everton full-back, suffered both tibia and fibula fractures in his right leg following a dreadful challenge from Neil Taylor, who was given a red card. 'Seamus suffered a serious leg injury and has undergone surgery,' said Republic manager Martin O'Neill. Coleman was given oxygen before being carried off at the Aviva Stadium. He was taken straight to St Vincent's University Hospital immediately after the incident and had surgery on Saturday morning. 'Seamus Coleman, who went off injured during the game, underwent surgery on Saturday morning after fracturing his right tibia and fibula, under the care of the FAI's orthopaedic surgeon, Professor John O'Byrne and Mister Gary O'Toole, consultant orthopaedic surgeon,' said a Football Association of Ireland statement. O'Toole is well known in Irish sporting circles as a former Olympic swimmer. Coleman's serious injury happened midway through the second half of the World Cup qualifier. 'He has had an exceptional season with both club and country and he will be a big loss,' added O'Neill. 'But, Seamus is so mentally strong that when he has fully recovered he will be as brilliant as before.' Wales's manager Chris Coleman claimed - rather unconvincingly - that Taylor was 'despondent' following the game. 'First and foremost, the most important thing is Seamus Coleman,' he said. 'We are told that it is not so good, which we are sorry for. Neil Taylor is not really that type of player, but it's a tough one for Seamus. Our thoughts are with him. I have not seen it again.' How, exactly, Chris Coleman believes that Taylor is 'not that sort of player', whatever 'that sort of player' constitutes, when he'd just smashed a fellow professional's leg in two is not, at this time, known. FIFA is reported to have opened proceedings against Taylor over the incident. Taylor will automatically be suspended for Wales's next qualifier, in Serbia in June, but could have his one-game ban extended by FIFA.
Lionel Messi was banned for four international matches - just five and a half hours before Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Bolivia kicked off. The Barcelona forward was punished for directing 'insulting words' at an assistant referee during Thursday's one-nil win over Chile. Messi, who scored the only goal in the qualifier, was angered when he was penalised for a foul, waving and shouting at the assistant in response. The twenty nine-year-old was fined eight thousand one hundred smackers. Or, about five minutes wages. He will miss his country's next four competitive fixtures. Argentina are currently third in South American qualifying, with the top four teams advancing to next summer's finals in Russia. There are five matches still to play.
Kenya international Clifton Miheso has filed a complaint to FIFA over his claim he was forced at gunpoint to end his contract with Golden Arrows. Miheso alleges the incident took place on 14 January at the South African club's offices in Durban. The twenty four-year-old is seeking a transfer ban 'or other sanction' to be placed on Golden Arrows and also wants twenty two thousand dollars that he claims he is owed in wages. Golden Arrows denied the allegations. The winger's legal representative says that the club has 'failed to provide any satisfactory information' about the incident. Miheso has won fourteen caps for Kenya.
A former member of Ghana's coaching team, Gerard Nus, has ended his 'sit-in' after the country's football association settled his bonuses. He has told BBC Sport that 'the matter is now over' despite not being paid in full. The Ghana Football Association, however, said it 'finally managed to raise the funds to pay all his outstanding bonuses on Saturday.' He had been refusing to leave his Accra hotel since the end of the Africa Cup of Nations in early February. 'Thanks to all people of Ghana. Great memories always from this passionate football country,' Nus posted on his Twitter feed. The Spaniard finally returned home from Ghana on Monday. 'All of this was more about having principles and claiming for the right things more than the money itself,' he explained. Yeah, but, it was mainly about the money. 'I'm just happy to see my family now.' According to the GFA statement there were 'disagreements' over whom should settle payments to the hotel where Nus had been staying. The situation was resolved between and the hotel on Sunday enabling Nus to return home. When Nus started his protest in February the GFA had explained that 'at the end of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations the entire technical team could not be paid their bonuses on time because of financial difficulties. The GFA engaged the staff to explain the difficulties, urging them to go home and be paid later when the money is available. Along with head coach Avram Grant, they all agreed and went home but Nus insisted on staying for as long as it takes to receive his money.'
A friendly match between Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal was extremely abandoned when fans invaded the pitch in Paris. The African sides were level at one-one after eighty eight minutes when a handful of fans broke onto the pitch, with one - wearing a particularly striking darza pair of pink pants - appearing to rugby tackle Senegal's Lamine Gassama. Players ran from the pitch and referee Tony Chapron opted to end the fixture. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haw's Sadio Mane had given Senegal a second-half lead from the penalty spot but Bi Gohi Cyriac levelled three minutes later. L'Equipe journalist Herve Penot was in the ground and told BBC World Service that the incident 'could have been very serious.' He added: 'I wouldn't say the people were violent, it was much more about trying to be with the players. But you never know what can happen, the organisation was a disaster, it was incredible. After twenty to thirty minutes, a couple of people were on the pitch, then they couldn't start the second-half because they had people on the pitch and the referee said if it happens again he will stop the game. It was very messy.' Local media reported a group of supporters jumped over perimeter fencing at Charlety Stadium moments before the pitch invasion started. It is the second time in five years that a game between the two countries has been called off because of crowd disturbances. Senegal were very disqualified from the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations when a riot led to a play-off between the sides being abandoned.
Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua's Hongkou stadium has been damaged by a fire. There were no casualties reported after the incident on Tuesday morning. The state news agency said the fire had 'not affected the stands or the pitch' and 'investigations were continuing' into the cause. The club, managed by ex-Brighton & Hove Albinos manager Gus Poyet, signed former Sheikh Yer Man City striker Carlos Tevez last year in a deal reported to be worth forty million knicker. Other ex-Premier League players in their squad include two of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies' former players, Demba Ba and Obafemi Martins. The Chinese Super League season started earlier this month with Shenhua scheduled to host Changchun Yatai in their next home game on Sunday 16 April.
The Football Association and Professional Footballers' Association are set to commission a study into potential links between heading footballs and brain damage. The two bodies have invited applications for independent research. Former England forward Jeff Astle died aged fifty nine in 2002, with a coroner ruling that his death was as a result of brain trauma. A re-examination of his brain in 2014 found he had died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Neurosurgeon Doctor Willie Stewart, who carried out that examination, said that it had been caused by Astle heading footballs throughout his career. Astle's daughter, Dawn, said she was 'really pleased' by the announcement of the joint FA-PFA study, adding it had been 'a long time coming.' She added: 'As long as the research is the right research, and being done by the right people to answer the key questions which have been asked by the FA and ourselves, then that is fine.' The research will specifically address the question of whether degenerative brain disease is more common in ex-professional footballers than in the rest of the population. Those interested in carrying out the research have until 17 May to apply. The FA's head of medicine, Doctor Charlotte Cowie, said 'the process will not be rapid' to ensure those affected 'can be confident in the final results. Football can be a killer.' Astle was originally diagnosed with early onset dementia and his cause of death was listed by the coroner as 'an industrial disease.' Twelve years after the former West Bromwich Albinos player's death, Doctor Stewart found that he had died from CTE, a brain condition normally linked to boxing. In 2015, Astle's family launched the Jeff Astle Foundation, which promotes care of others affected and research and education into the condition. Later that year, the FA agreed to carry out research into head injuries in the sport, and also drew up new guidelines on how to deal with concussion. Dawn Astle said that the latest step will help the next generation of footballers make 'informed choices.' She said: 'It is like smoking - we all know smoking can give you lung cancer, the warning is there on the cigarettes. You choose whether you smoke or not, and this will be no different. We know smoking can be a killer, we know football can be a killer - it is on dad's death certificate. It is not about stopping football, banning it, anything like that. It is just about letting people make informed choices and, without the research you can't do that.'
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale says that Craig Woodman will be 'out for a while' with a fractured arm, having previously joked that the defender could play with just such an injury. After beating Cheltenham in December, Tisdale said Woodman 'could've played with a broken arm, he was that good.' However, the thirty four-year-old suffered that precise injury in Exeter's draw with Yeovil last Saturday. Asked about the irony of his previous remark, Tisdale said: 'Maybe I won't mention that next time.'
Utter disgrace David Moyes has been forced to grovellingly apologise after he allegedly threatened to 'slap' a female radio reporter. However, Blunderland are reported not to be planning to sack their manager's sorry ass because he 'quickly admitted his behaviour was unacceptable.' Oh, so that's all right then. What a sodding hero he is, eh? Threatening a lady with 'a slap' for simply doing her job and then, having realised that such behaviour is a bloody disgrace, snivelling to save his job. The incident, which occurred last month, has only now come to light. Vicki Sparks - a former colleague of this blogger at BBC Newcastle, who now works for 5Live and, not for nothing, a lovely person with a pleasant and polite interview manner - was speaking to the Blunderland manager following The Mackem Filth's goalless draw with Burnley before the international break. Moyes was said to be 'furious' following a - seemingly, perfectly reasonable - question about whether the presence of Blunderland's usually absentee-owner Ellis Short at the game meant that Moyes's job was under threat and criticised Vicki after the interview had ended. However, it is understood that Vicki was still recording when the exchange took place and, although, she did not make a complaint - because, she's a class act who wouldn't do that sort of thing - her employers were, rightly, properly furious when they heard the full, unedited audio clip and accused Moyes of crass and ignorant bullying. For which he was, frankly, banged-to-rights. 'It was getting a wee bit naughty at the end there so just watch yourself,' Moyes was heard telling Vicki, aggressively. 'You still might get a slap even though you're a woman. Careful the next time you come in.' The Torygraph claimed that it was Moyes who instigated the subsequent apology, ringing Vicki first thing the following Monday morning, in which he told her that his language was 'completely unacceptable,' before apologising and asking for her forgiveness. It is reported that it was this contrition - and that alone - which appears to have saved Moyes from getting his P45, along with the fact that both Vicki and the BBC have accepted the apology. Nevertheless, this ugly episode will increase the pressure on the former Everton and The Scum manager whose side have not been out of the relegation zone since August. The Black Cats remain rooted to the foot of the Premiership after Saturday's one-nil defeat to Watford.
Which leaves only one observation to make ...
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies maintained their lead at the top of the Championship, as Wigan Not Very Athletic made them battle hard for a first win in four games on Saturday, United having, frankly, played a bunch of bloody part-timers in the last three matches. Dwight Gayle netted his twenty second goal of the season when Mo Diame put the ball on a plate for him to finish unmarked at the far post. But the visitors created a shock early in the second half when Michael Jacobs levelled from Alex Gilbey's cross. Matt Ritchie restored the lead for The Magpies when he headed in a rebound off the post from his own half-volley. Paul Dummett's cross from the left was mis-kicked by Yoan Gouffran and the ball fell to Ritchie who volleyed into the turf and when the ball came back off the post he reacted well to nod home at the Gallowgate End - thereafter booting a completely defenceless corner flag towards The Milburn Stand before celebrating with fans in the front row. Newcastle stay a point ahead of second-placed Brighton & Hove Albinos, who beat Blackburn Vindaloos at home, but they now have a ten-point cushion over third-placed Huddersfield Town who were surprisingly beaten at home by relegation-threatened Burton Albion. Reading leapfrogged Dirty Leeds into fourth place with a one-nil victory. Wigan's third straight defeat, in what was interim manager Graham Barrow's first game in charge, sees them slip seven points adrift of safety with seven games remaining. The Latics had caused the leaders some problems at St James' Park and could have taken the lead in the second half when centre-back Dan Burn headed over the crossbar when unmarked from a corner. Second-half substitute Ryan Colclough also went close on a couple of occasions, but Newcastle had enough to close out the game with some ease. Ritchie was denied a second to make sure of the points late on when Matt Gilks saved with his feet in a one-on-one when played in by Christian Atsu.
The jolly excellent nufc.com website pointed out an interesting factoid this very week. Well, this blogger thought it was interesting, anyway: Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United have now acquired more league points in their history than their closest geographical rivals, Blunderland. The Magpies' current total of five thousand three hundred and thirty two Football League points since they first entered what was, then, Division Two in 1893, is eight more than The Mackem Filth who currently have a total of five thousand three hundred and twenty four. Meaning that United's - at the time, very disappointing - home point against Bristol City earlier this month was the moment when they overtook The Black Cats as, if you will, The Cock Of The North. This is despite United having played one hundred and twenty four fewer league games with four thousand five hundred and eighteen compared to the red and white's total of four thousand six hundred and forty two - mainly down to Blunderland starting their league career three years earlier than United, in 1890 (which, additionally, gave them a one hundred and thirteen points head start). United previously came closest to overtaking The Wearsiders at the start of the 1997-98 season when they were but twenty seven points behind. Blunderland, however, had just been relegated from the Premier League the previous season - which was, you know, funny - and reached the Championship play-offs that year whilst United amassed a spectacularly modest Premier League total under Kenny Dalglish. The apex of Blunderland's points lead over The Toon was during the 1980-81 season when the gap was extended to a whopping one hundred and eighty nine points. Since then The Magpies have, gradually, been reeling The Black Cats in. Of course, all of this may change again next season, depending which divisions the two North East rivals start the 2017-18 campaign in. Newcastle currently sit fifteenth in the all-time Football League points total list with Bolton Wanderers (five thousand three hundred and forty two) and Notts County (five thousand three hundred and forty four) next in their sights. Those two have played two hundred and twenty six and three hundred and sixty eight more league games than United, respectively. In terms of the top tier of yer actual English fitba (the Premier League and, before that, the old Division One) United are currently three hundred and thirty three points ahead of the Mackems, having played fifty eight more top flight games whilst, in the Premier League itself (since 1992-93) United are a massive five hundred and sixty nine points clear having played two hundred and forty six more games.
      All right, you can all wake up now, this blogger is finished with the stats.
Tributes have been paid to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle United's legendary tea lady, Kath Cassidy, who has died at the age of ninety. Kath retired in October 2015 after serving beverages to home and away players, managers and journalists at St James' Park since 1963. The club said that she had been 'adored by managers, players and staff alike.' Alan Shearer said: 'She was devoted to Newcastle, always made me smile and made the very best tea.' When Kath retired, aged eighty eight, she was a special guest at the club's game against Norwich City. In a statement, Newcastle United said: 'We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the club's legendary tea lady, our beloved Kath Cassidy. Kath loyally served the club for half a century and was adored by managers, players and staff alike. The thoughts of everyone connected with Newcastle United are with Kath's family and friends at this very sad time.'
A football fan has been found very guilty of trying to punch Crystal Palace's bald eagle mascot during an Capital One Cup game. Charlton Not Very Athletic supporter Daniel Boylett, of Eltham, was extremely arrested after 'trouble broke out' at the match on 23 September 2015. He was found pure-dead guilty at Croydon Crown Court of 'attempted damage' over the attack on Kayla, the eagle. He was also found guilty of violent disorder. Boylett was released on bail to be sentenced on 28 April. Crystal Palace - who are nicknamed The Eagles - adopted Kayla as their mascot in 2010. The court heard that Kayla's handler, Chris Belsey, was walking around the Selhurst Park pitch with the bird perched on his forearm. Prosecutor Daniel Higgins said 'three or four fans were shouting abuse' at the pair when one leaned over the barrier and 'threw a punch.' He said Belsey did not know if the punch had landed and Kayla 'seemed unhurt,' but 'due to her delicate bone structure if she had been hit with force, her bones could easily break.' Four other men were on trial with Boylett over the trouble which marred the Capital One third-round tie. Higgins said that there had been trouble 'before, during and after' the game which, at least proves those response are consistent. The first scuffles broke out as police escorted Charlton supporters to Selhurst Park. One officer suffered a cut lip after being hit by what he thought was a bottle as rival fans tried to break the police cordon, the court heard. At the end of the match, which Charlton lost four-one, one of the men facing charges, Sam Donegan, ran at police wielding a large yellow traffic cone and 'had to be subdued with a baton strike.' Which, frankly, is the single funniest comment imaginable given the circumstances. After his arrest, he told police that he was 'annoyed' as 'we just got battered. I picked it up and let my anger out.'
They were heady, historic days in the sporting history of Iceland. A Nordic nation of three hundred thousand people toppling former World Cup winners and footballing lawmakers England in a major tournament doesn't happen every week. It would appear, however, that those in Iceland ensured they celebrated that famous win in the best possible way. Nine months on from the two-one victory on the French riviera which cost Roy Hodgson his job and Joe Hart what remained of his reputation, local newspaper Visir has reported a record-breaking amount of births in Iceland. Indeed, the weekend of 25 to 26 March saw the highest-ever amount of epidurals administered to patients in Icelandic hospitals.
As this week - astonishingly - saw the first day of the new cricket season, this blogger thought he'd post this. Textbook forward defensive shot from the young man there, in what was clearly tricky, overcast conditions and the ball moving all over the place off the seam. Bright future ahead of him in the game, and all that.
A new eight-team, city-based Twenty20 tournament could 'absolutely rival the Indian Premier League' according to England and Wales Cricket Board's chief Tom Harrison. The competition, proposed to begin in 2020, moved a step closer on Monday as further details were revealed. ECB chief executive Harrison said that it was 'not a gamble' for the eighteen first-class counties. 'What we are doing here is future-proofing county cricket,' Harrison told BBC Sport. 'I don't think it's so much a gamble, it's about saying, "What do we want our business and our game to look like?"' The IPL - and Australia's Big Bash tournament - enjoy 'uge success, attracting the world's best limited-overs players and drawing large crowds. A referendum is expected to be dispatched on Tuesday inviting stakeholders to sanction a UK tournament including eight teams, rather than the eighteen counties who traditionally contest the main competitions domestically. This will be the first time in the history of domestic cricket that first-class counties are not represented, hence the need for a change to the ECB's articles and constitutions. It was confirmed on Monday that all eighteen clubs have signed 'media rights deeds' to allow the governing body to include the new Twenty20 in their forthcoming broadcast portfolio. Asked if the move to a city-based format signalled the beginning of the end of the county system, Harrison said: 'Not at all. I think what we are doing here is future-proofing county cricket. Cricket has been a sport which has always had the ability to evolve and change where it's needed to, and its shown itself to be incredibly adaptable. We are the sport which came up with short formats through T20, and other sports have been trying to find the T20 equivalent of their own. So we have demonstrated we are capable of it, we've got the format, we now just need to create the competition which enables these new fans to get involved. It's a hugely exciting moment.' The ECB says that the proposed competition can rival the incredible success of the Indian Premier League and The Big Bash, which draw average crowds of more than twenty thousand punters. Questions remain around where the tournament will fit into the schedule and which of the world's best players will be availableto play in it. The ECB insists it will not impact on the T20 Blast, which last season featured the likes of West Indies star Chris Gayle and New Zealand's Brendon McCullum. 'We think there's a lot of room for growth in the Blast,' said Harrison. 'It's done a tremendous job at bringing in a county cricket audience. But the evidence we have suggest cricket exists in a bubble and we've got to get outside this bubble.' The ECB's aim for 'significant' free-to-air coverage is 'an aspiration which reaches at the heart of our proposition going forward,' according to Harrison. 'We are hoping very much as part of that is a whole new calibration of our reach, so a whole new way of looking at access to our sport whether that's digitally whether it's through social media or whether it's through traditional TV channels,' he added. 'But we also understand it has to be the right mix of revenue and reach and promotion of the game which is ultimately what we're searching for.'
A former Power Rangers actor has been sentenced to six years in The Big House for stabbing his roommate to death with a sword two years ago. Ricardo Medina, who claimed that he acted in self-defence, pleaded guilty earlier this month to voluntary manslaughter. He was initially charged with murder over the death of Joshua Sutter. Medina's lawyer said that his client 'agreed' to plead to the lesser charge rather than risk a murder conviction and a possible life sentence. A judge sentenced the actor after hearing testimony from Sutter's family, who were in the courtroom in Lancaster, California. 'Put this killer in general [prison] population so he will see and feel the same fear that Joshua must have felt,' said the thirty six-year-old victim's father, Donald Sutter. He also told the judge that no-one would look at Ricardo Medina as a celebrity again. The actor stabbed Sutter to death on 31 January 2015 after an argument in the home the two shared in Green Valley, a town north of Los Angeles. Medina's lawyer claimed that the row, over thirty eight-year-old Medina's girlfriend, began in their kitchen. She and Medina then ran to his bedroom and locked the door 'when it got serious.' When Joshua Sutter kicked down the door, Medina stabbed him with a sword he kept in the room. Medina played The Red Lion Wild Force Ranger on Power Rangers in 2002. He was the voice of Deker on Power Rangers Samurai in 2011 and 2012 and also appeared in shows like ER and CSI: Miami.
People who wake at night with a desperate urge to go to the lavatory - like this blogger who, frankly, is a bloody martyr to his bladder - may need to cut back on salt in their diets, doctors from Japan are suggesting. The problem - called nocturia - which mainly affects the over-sixties, leads to disrupted sleep and can significantly affect people's lives. In a study of more than three hundred volunteers, researchers found that reduced salt intake led people to urinate less. Advice to follow 'a sensible diet' (whatever the Hell that ludicrously unscientific phrase means) 'could help' improve symptoms, doctors said. 'Could.' Another terrific word to hear in a medical diagnosis. The researchers, from Nagasaki University, presented their findings at the European Society of Urology Congress in London. They followed patients who had a high salt intake and sleeping problems for three months, after giving them advice to cut back on salt in their diet. On average, waking up in the middle of the night busting for a slash fell from 'more than twice a night' to 'just one.' This happened at night as well as during the day and their quality of life also improved. Conversely, ninety eight people in the study ended up eating more salt than normal and found they went to the netty more often at night-time. Study author Doctor Matsuo Tomohiro said that larger studies were needed to confirm the link but the results 'could' (that word again) offer help for older people. 'This work holds out the possibility that a simply dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people,' he claimed. Professor Marcus Drake, a nocturia expert from the University of Bristol, said that the amount of salt people ate was 'not generally considered' to be a cause of nocturia. Usually, doctors tended to focus on the volume of water patients drank before bedtime and on bladder and prostate problems (in men), he said. 'Here we have a useful study showing how we need to consider all influences to get the best chance of improving the symptom.' The need to wake up at night to empty the bladder affects more than half of men and women over the age of fifty - this blogger being but one of them. It is particularly common in elderly people, many of whom get up at least twice a night. When you start to need to make two or more trips to the bathroom at night, sleep is being disturbed - which can lead to stress, tiredness and irritability. As,again, this blogger can certainly confirm. Hormonal changes do happen as we age, making us produce more urine at night. Men's prostate glands also often start growing with age. An enlarged prostate can press on the tube that yer widdle passes through before leaving the body, increasing the need to pee. But this isn't the whole story. Nocturia can also be a sign of an underlying health problem, such as diabetes, heart problems or sleep-related conditions, such as sleep apnoea.
David Bowie may be gone, but the mark he left on the world is not. The late rock and/or roll star and his wife, the supermodel Iman, lived in a palatial New York City gaff from 1992 to 2002 and, now, it is back on the market. The property includes quite a piece of memorabilia - a Yamaha piano originally owned by The Grand Dame. The instrument has been passed from homeowner to homeowner since David and Iman sold the drum. The one thousand eight hundred and seventy seven square foot apartment has three bedrooms, two full and one half bathrooms. There's a limestone entry foyer and on the other side of a pass-through kitchen, a twenty eight foot living room - where the piano currently sits - that overlooks Central Park. The bedroom off the living room, also with 'clear and direct' views of the park, is currently set up as 'a stately walnut panelled' home office, 'the perfect place from which to close the next big deal, write the next best-selling novel,' according to the listing. The master bedroom suite has five closets, a separate dressing room and an 'extra large bath with separate deep soaking tub, rain shower and heated floors.' The second bedroom is also master-sized with an en-suite marble, limestone and porcelain bathroom. The property is in Essex House, a building which offers 'the perfect blend of residential living and hotel living with every amenity at your fingertips from maid's service to room service.'
This blogger recently came across the term 'MILF' for - what he insists is - the very first time, dear blog reader. Apparently, it stands for 'Mummies I'd Like to Fence.'
And, what with fencing being a particular favourite sport of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, it's clearly time for a new, semi-regular, From The North segment, Mummies I'd Like to Fence ... in Advertising. Starting, obviously, with Number One: The Admiral. Yep, a bit of naval cutlass wielding with The Admiral would, surely, be an afternoon well-spent for anyone.
Followed, equally obviously, by Number Two, the mummy off the Octopus Energy adverts. She can attack me with her purple lightsabre any time she likes.
And then there's Number Three, the saucy mummy off the Saint Agur adverts. Who can make even the limpest fencer's Epee stand up straight to attention.
On 14 July 2015, the small space probe New Horizons shot past Pluto at five hundred thousand kilometres per hour. It took images and data as it barnstormed the tiny world just twelve thousand kilometres above the surface and then, as it passed what for many remains the final outpost of the planets (whatever some people with letters after their names might say to the contrary), the spacecraft spun around to look back on its target, lit from behind by The Sun. That image is a newly reprocessed mosaic comprised of six grayscale images taken with New Horizons' high-resolution camera, with the colour added using information from a lower-resolution camera that was colour-sensitive. The six frames were taken a little over three hours after closest approach and all within a half-hour of each other. This new mosaic was carefully constructed by Tod Lauer and Alex Parker, who painstakingly matched the pieces together and mapped the colours to them. What you are seeing is the night side of Pluto, backlit by The Sun. Pluto is over thirty times farther from The Sun than Earth is, so all the time it was travelling from Earth to Pluto, New Horizons was seeing Pluto's lit side. Once it passed Pluto and spun around, it was seeing the night side, unlit, and The Sun nearly five billion kilometres distant. With Pluto darkened, the fainter features around it were easier to see. And that ring of light in the image? That's Pluto's atmosphere, an ethereally thin whisper of gas. The sunlight is so dim at the inner solar system's edge it can only feebly free nitrogen ice and other molecules on the surface and turn it into a gas, barely managing to create one hundred-thousandth the pressure we enjoy here on Earth. Pluto's weak gravity can barely hold on to this gas, so the atmosphere puffs up, ironically reaching much higher altitudes than our thicker atmosphere does on Earth. And, it's blue. This is because it's mostly nitrogen, just like Earth's air. Nitrogen molecules allow longer wavelength redder light to pass right by them, but scatter shorter wavelength blue light in every direction. This spreads the blue out, creating the cerulean sky. Another stunning feature to Pluto's atmosphere is the layering you can see to it; there are dozens of thin strata visible. Those are haze layers, thin blankets of what may be organic molecules created as ultraviolet sunlight and zippy subatomic particles called cosmic rays break down simple carbon-based molecules on Pluto and build up more complex ones like acetylene and ethylene. There are dozens of such layers, apparently buoyed up the air and shaped by waves of winds in Pluto's atmosphere.
Scientists studying the Lomonosov impact crater on Mars believe that a massive tsunami — or possibly two — rolled across the Martian ocean three billion years ago and swept across a region of The Red Planet known as Arabia Terra. Furthermore, they estimate that at least one wave measuring three hundred metres tall deposited a great amount of sediment in that region and it was all caused by an asteroid impact — or perhaps more. Cosmos magazine reported this week that a team led by Francois Costard, a planetary geomorphologist from the Université Paris Sud believes that the possible sources for one or more Mars tsunamis has been located. According to their research, the scientists contend that the most probable source of the tsunami, if there was only one, exists as a sixty-kilometre impact crater which is located about a thousand kilometres off the boundary believed to be the shore of the region. However, if the sediment deposits are the result of two tsunamis, the team has found smaller craters closer to the shoreline where just a couple of asteroid impacts could have produced tsunamis capable of bearing such sedimentary loads. 'It was a really large-scale, high speed tsunami,' Doctor Costard explained, according to the Christian Science Monitor. 'At the very beginning, a crater of seventy kilometres in diameter was created by the impact. This expelled a huge volume of water, with wave propagation at sixty metres per second. The initial wave was about three hundred meters in height. After just a few hours, that tsunami wave reached the paleo-shoreline located at a few hundred kilometres from the impact crater.' These tsunamis would be far higher and more voluminous than any produced on Earth, an effect of Mars' gravity being one-third that of Earth's. 'We found typical tsunami deposits along the dichotomy between the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere of Mars,' Costard told BBC News. 'It supports that there was, at that time, a Northern ocean.' The new research also explains the rather strange topographical features known as thumbprint terrain, which have been found on the seaward extremes of some of the tsunami deposits. Thumbprint terrain is composed of curving, concentric ridges ten to twenty metres high and resemble the ridges in a human fingerprint. Stephen Clifford, a planetary scientist from the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, provided the explanation for the thumbprint terrain formation. He noted that the tsunami wave propagation comes from 'well-verified terrestrial models' and that the terrain was a result of tsunamis coming in two pulses. The first would be a result of the initial asteroid hit, which would push enormous amounts of water out of its impact path. The second pulse would be created when water returned to the displaced water's area and the depression left by the asteroid from all sides. And that onrushing water would then have crashed in the centre of the impact depression, creating 'a giant splash' and rebounded back outward as a second tsunami, one even larger than the first. More evidence can be found in what is know as a lobate deposit, which is another landform. 'These lobate deposits propagate uphill from the Northern plains and do so in close association with a potential palaeo-shoreline,' Clifford told BBC News. 'The predictions of the numerical modelling that François and his colleagues have done provide a very persuasive case for an ocean at this time.'
A Daily Scum Mail front page which focused on Theresa May and Wee Jimmy Krankie's legs rather than their politics has 'sparked anger and condemnation.' Among, you know, the sort of people that this sort of thing does spark anger and condemnation over. Frequently. The odious right-wing louse-scum newspaper's Tuesday splash showed a picture of the British Prime Minister and Scottish First Minister with the headline, Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it! The front page of the two leaders was 'widely criticised' on Twitter after it first appeared on Monday evening - Twitter now being, of course, 'the sole arbiter of the wroth of all things' ... at least, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. And, Daily Scum Mail odious editor That Awful Dacre Individual's Wikipedia was hacked. The modified Wikipedia entry - since removed - described him 'an English Caveman editing British hate-promoting paper the Daily Mail.' Actually, that's a pretty accurate assessment. Former Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi tweeted: 'The 1950s called and asked for their headline back.' Which, for yer man Ed is rather funny - what a pity he didn't come up with material of the quality of that when he was the leader of the opposition. The Scum Mail itself scornfully told those who found their front page offensive to 'get a life'. Which, one hopes, the Scum Mail will be reminded of - by everyone - the next time they get their knickers in a twist about something.
Does anyone actually like Ed Sheeran's songs or are we simply employing them as torture devices? The question has been raised after a Midlands woman was very jailed for 'terrorising' her neighbours with a solid half-hour of Sheeran's song 'Shape Of You' played on repeat, at indescribable volume. I mean, waterboarding's bad enough but, this, that's just sick. Surely the Geneva Convention covers such outrages against human dignity? Sheeran, incidentally, is a popular beat combo. Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair. Just in case you were wondering. This malarkey constituted 'a wholly unacceptable level of disturbance,' according to a judge. And all other conscious human beings, one imagines. Over the past months, Sonia Bryce of Willenhall seems to have taken things to the next level. Her neighbour, Clare Tidmarsh, kept a diary of 'disturbances' emanating from Bryce's home. These included 'loud noise involving music, shouting, swearing and banging – time and time again' according to Judge Philip Gregory. Bryce's landlords, Walsall Housing Group, had also previously been granted a court order barring her from 'creating a nuisance or annoyance,' a court order which she violated repeatedly before being handed a six-week jail sentence in December. Tidmarsh described the Sheeran incident as 'the straw that broke the camel's back.' Although Bryce denied playing the music, insisting that 'she doesn't even like' Sheeran's songs - well, she's certainly not alone there - she was given a further eight-weeks in The Big House for the disturbance. 'You must learn that you should behave as a reasonable and responsible adult and not make life for your neighbours the misery that you have,' the judge said. Which was presumably directed at Sheeran, we don't know what he said to Bryce.
Naughty thieves stole a one hundred kilogram gold coin with a market value of almost four million Euros in 'a dawn heist' at Berlin's Bode Museum on Monday morning. The coin, nicknamed The Big Maple Leaf, is a commemorative piece which was issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007. It measures fifty three centimetre across and is three centimetres thick and, like all Canadian coins, it features a portrait of The Queen her very self. With, as one all Canadian money, a face like a smacked arse, frankly. The Bode Museum valued the coin at nine hundred and twenty thousand Euros although the market price of gold is much higher. The coin has also entered The Guinness Book Of Records for its immense purity of gold. German police said on Twitter that the thieves 'probably used a ladder,' which was later found at a nearby rail track, to break into the museum. They said that they are looking for anyone with a really big purse.
Convicted kiddie-fiddler Gary Glitter's cousin, who stood him while he was jailed for child abuse, has revealed that the former pop star sexually abused her as a child too. Jo Gadd has alleged that Glitter abused her when she was twelve years old, saying that speaking out was 'a huge relief.' Glitter, born Paul Gadd, was first arrested on child porn charges in 1999 and is currently serving a sixteen-year jail sentence over historic child sex crimes. Throughout the series of accusations levelled at Glitter, Jo Gadd publicly stood by her cousin, even agreeing to be a character witness for him at one of his trails. She said in her statement that he was 'innocent,' but the statement was not used and she now claims that she 'deeply regrets' having provided it in the first place. The forty six-year-old claimed that Glitter abused her one night while her parents were downstairs. Writing for the Scum Mail on Sunday, the mother of two said: '[He] appeared at my bedside carrying a bottle of champagne and a crystal glass. I was secretly thrilled. He was, back then, the Leader of the Gang, the silver-suited and platform-booted showman whose Glitter Band rocked Top Of The Pops.' Which, as shoddily written as it is, still has the edge on the majority of stuff written in the Scum Mail. 'I lay still, pretending to be asleep, but he got into bed with me and touched me between the legs and on my chest.' Gadd said that she 'longed' for Glitter to stop, but was 'paralysed by fear' and 'felt unable to tell him to stop.' She added: 'I felt sick and angry and but what could I do? He had abused me in front of a room full of girls who were, like the adults nearby, in thrall to his celebrity.' Gadd claimed that she did not speak out because some of the best parts of her childhood - parties and backstage passes - had Glitter 'at the heart of them.' Instead, she alleges, she 'wiped the incident' from her memory. Her father, John, had also been 'a father figure' to Glitter, teaching him to play the guitar as a youngster. When he died, Gadd said that Glitter was 'a source of comfort' to her, turning himself 'into a father figure' to her. She said that she now saw his actions towards her as 'a means of protecting himself' and ensuring her loyalty. In 1999, Glitter was found to have a huge number of indecent images of children on a laptop that he put in for repair. He was very imprisoned for a year. Gadd claims that she stood by him whilst 'the world turned against him. People said: "It's disgusting. How could he?" I just said: "He's my family." The truth was that if I accepted his guilt over the computer porn, I had to admit the truth of what he had done to me,' she alleged, adding: 'I have to live with that knowledge and also the fact that in not telling anyone, not being able to tell anyone, I let him do the same to an unknown number of girls over the decades.' When Glitter was extremely jailed for molesting two girls, aged ten and eleven, in Viet'nam, Gadd again rushed to help him. It was not until Glitter returned to the UK and it emerged that she had - unwittingly - helped him pay money to a former prostitute in Viet'nam who had 'fixed Glitter up' with young girls, that she claims she 'forced herself' to 'confront what had happened in my own childhood.' Glitter was jailed for sixteen years for historic sexual offences in 2015. He was found very guilty of rape, unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under thirteen and four counts of indecent assault. Gadd gave Glitter's lawyers character witness statements, claiming that he was 'innocent' of the crimes. It was after the trial when she spoke to Glitter's 'only remaining friend' that she finally revealed the abuse she had, herself, suffered. Glitter, she said, claims he was 'tucking her up in bed.' Gadd says she is considering 'taking her allegations to the police' - having already done so to the press and, presumably, being paid for this - and is 'receiving counselling.'
Wicked Katie Hopkins has been told that she cannot appeal against a libel action which landed her with a six-figure bill and must pay up or face a spell in The Pokey. Hopkins - who does various things involving making her crass and worthless opinions heard in public to justify her existence - was ordered to pay twenty four grand in damages to the food blogger Jack Monroe earlier this month. Monroe sued Hopkins over two tweets posted in May 2015 in which Hopkins accused Monroe of vandalising a war memorial. Which, she didn't or anything even remotely like it. Mr Justice Warby said that the grounds of Hopkins' appeal 'would not have a real prospect of success' in his view. And, he should know. Hopkins has also been ordered to pay one hundred and seven thousand smackers towards the campaigner's legal costs within twenty eight days. Which is, you know, funny. He ruled that the tweets had caused Monroe 'real and substantial distress' and she was thoroughly 'entitled to fair and reasonable compensation.' The final costs figure has yet to be assessed. But, it'll likely be massive. Following the original verdict, Hopkins argued that libel and defamation laws should be applied differently to cases involving social media. And, to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies, 'well, she would, wouldn't she?'
A 'social media storm' erupted on Sunday when two girls were stopped from boarding a United Airlines flight because they were wearing leggings. The girls were flying as guests of employees and, thus, were subject to the company's dress code. But, it is not the first time leggings or yoga pants have 'caused controversy' in the United States. Both types of tight-fitting trousers, which have become increasingly popular leisure wear, have become 'the topic of hot debate' in recent years. For many, they are simply a comfy alternative to jeans. For others, their form-hugging material makes them 'overly revealing' or even obscene. Mind you, the people who think that are, admittedly, mental. Last October, a man in Rhode Island sent a letter to his local newspaper, calling for women over twenty to stop wearing them. 'Like the mini-skirt, yoga pants can be adorable on children and young women who have the benefit of nature's blessing of youth. However, on mature, adult women there is something bizarre and disturbing about the appearance they make in public,' wrote Alan Sorrentino. Whoever the Hell, he is. The publication of the letter sparked a 'yoga pants protest.' Hundreds of women - of all ages - responded by walking through the town of Barrington wearing leggings. Jamie Bee, one of the protest's organisers, told the BBC that the 'outrage' was 'never really about yoga pants. For me and many others, it's the principle,' she said. 'Why do people feel the need to tell others how to dress?' Sorrentino, who said that he received death threats after the backlash, later said that his letter was 'meant as satire.' One or two people even believed him. United Airlines has since clarified that 'regular passengers' are not subject to the same leggings ban as the girls on Sunday's flight. But, the dress code, which applies to staff and their relatives travelling on special passes, states a ban on 'form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses,' among various other restrictions. Flight attendant and author Heather Poole said, on Twitter, that airlines 'often' have dress codes for staff travelling for free, as they are seen as 'representing the company. Men have a dress code too. This is about being too "casual." We can't wear flip flops or shorts either,' she wrote. Various US schools have also 'attracted controversy' with their policy on leggings. In Ohio, the Lakewood City school district revised its dress code last year following complaints that it had 'outdated and sexist elements.' Tight-fitting trousers, including leggings and yoga pants, went from being banned to permitted, but only if 'the garment worn on top covers the buttocks.' Other amendments to the code included allowing hooded sweatshirts, as long as the hoods are 'not covering a student's head.' Which makes them a bit pointless, frankly. They also upped the minimum length of skirts from 'slightly above the knee or longer' to 'mid-thigh or longer.' In 2015, students at Cape Cod Technical College in Massachusetts planned a protest against dress code changes that prohibited them from wearing yoga pants and similar clothing without wearing a skirt, dress or shorts over the top. School superintendent Robert Sanborn argued that the policy was 'designed to prepare students for the working world. Part of our framework for our school is employability skills, and there's proper dress for that,' he told the Boston Globe at the time. The school did not back down and the dress code still stands.
Three teenagers who broke into a home in Oklahoma were killed by the homeowner's son firing an assault-style AR-15, say police. So, they won't be doing that again any time soon. 'They were dressed in black, all had masks on, and all had gloves on,' Deputy Nick Mahoney told reporters. The intruders - who police say were armed with brass knuckles and a knife - were shot by a twenty three-year-old man in an act of 'self-defence', officers said. The son may not ultimately face any charges due to so-called 'stand your ground' laws. 'This may be a case of "stand-your-ground," however, it's still too early to say for sure and we're still looking into all aspects of this,' Mahoney told the local media. He was referring to the laws in some states of America which state that a citizen can legally use lethal force in defending themselves or their property if they feel that their life may be is 'imminent danger.' And, if three armed and masked intruders don't constitute reasonable grounds for a belief that your life might be in danger then, frankly, nothing is. Two of the teenagers died inside the home and one ran outside before dying in the driveway. The teenagers broke through a sliding glass door in the back of the house before encountering the homeowner's adult son, who was armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle and their asses dead, police say. The chap, who authorities say also lives at the address with his father, opened fire on the teens after they had a 'short exchange of words.' Authorities say that they have 'no reason to believe' the home residents knew the teens. Two of the teens are under seventeen years old and one is between eighteen and nineteen. A fourth person has been arrested and is currently facing murder and burglary charges. Elizabeth Marie Rodriguez, twenty one, turned herself in at the Broken Arrow police station and has admitted to serving as a getaway driver for the dead teens. Nearby residents told local media that there have been 'a string of burglaries' in the area, but police have made no link.
A Chinese TV drama has been accused of racism after a social media user claimed to have 'spotted' two black extras acting as burned corpses. A screenshot was posted online on Wednesday from the second series of the detective show Shaonian Baoqingtian. In a scene from episode thirty seven, first broadcast in 2001 but still available online, two burned corpses slouched in coffins are seen in a cemetery, however neither of the bodies appear to be props or even people in make-up.
Police in San Antonio are reported to be searching for two suspects who they say lured a man into a vacant apartment with promises of The Sex, robbed him at gunpoint and then used his credit card 'to buy tacos.' According to police, one of the suspects - a woman - convinced the victim to meet her on Monday at an empty apartment in the Mission Del Lago apartment complex, a news release said. Once inside, an armed man robbed the - one imagines, rather disappointed - victim at gunpoint. Police say moments after the robbery, the two suspects went to a nearby restaurant for tacos, which they paid for with the victim's credit card.
A Frenchman has reportedly been given a three-month suspended prison sentence for sexually abusing his pet chicken. The fifty nine-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was seen performing the sick and sordid act in the family garage by his daughter, who told her mother. The horrified women then 'kept tabs' on her partner and, one day, followed him on a trip to the garage and 'caught him in the act,' a court in Rouen heard. He had his trousers around his ankles and was 'at a stage of extreme excitement' in the Normandy town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray. On Wednesday, the court found the man very guilty of 'sexually abusing a domesticated animal,' saying that there was evidence he had 'regularly' abused the bird. The court heard that his wife vomited 'when she saw what her husband was doing.' One imagines the chicken might've been doing something similar. The man's lawyer added: 'My client is clearly very ashamed about this. He and his wife have now separated.' No shit? The chicken has been given to a new owner and the man has been banned from keeping pets for life.
A rising star in the spice aisle, turmeric has developed something of a following among holistic wellness practitioners and the health conscious. Plus, it tastes dead nice in a curry as yer actual Keith Telly Topping can well confirm. But, its safety is being questioned following the death of a San Diego woman who received a turmeric treatment intravenously, reports NBC News. Jade Erick died on 16 March after turning to the Indian spice as a treatment for eczema. The San Diego Medical Examiner's Office ruled that her death 'an accident.' The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health explains that turmeric has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for breathing problems, pain, fatigue and rheumatism. Some people now consume the spice to help with inflammation, arthritis, stomach, skin and liver problems as well as cancer. Plus, as noted, cos it goes down really well with chilli and rice. A type of chemical named curcuminoid present in turmeric is thought to be the reason for its health benefits, especially with inflammation-related diseases. However, the NIH says this claim is 'not supported by strong studies.' The organisation does say that research indicates curcuminoids 'could' reduce heart attacks in bypass patients after surgery, help with osteoarthritis pain (as well as ibuprofen) and decrease skin irritation. On WebMD, only three conditions (osteoarthritis, high cholesterol and itching) are listed as possibly being helped by turmeric. More than thirty ailments allegedly helped by turmeric are deemed 'ineffective.' While generally viewed as safe, too much turmeric (as with pretty much anything) can have its dangers. WebMD cites an instance of one person who experienced abnormal heart rhythms after taking more than fifteen hundred milligrams of turmeric twice a day. Certain medical conditions, like gallbladder problems or diabetes, can be exacerbated by the spice, and mixing it with other medications is not advisable. The safety of administering turmeric through an IV aren't well known as the practice is 'less common.' Mark Stengler, a naturopathic doctor who offers turmeric orally, told NBC News, 'It hasn't been well studied. It's more theoretical, so it's more investigational.'
On Wednesday evening, dear blog reader, this blogger walked casually into the Stately Telly Topping bathroom (you know, to use the facilities for the purposes for which they were intended), only to be confronted by this on the wall.
'I'm not going back in there till it dies,' Keith Telly Topping though to himself. Scared as he was, however, it must be said it was pretty damn moody picture, backlit like that and with the sort of With The Beatles-style half-in-shadow thing going for it. In the end, this blogger left the spider alone and, by morning, it had disappeared. Back through the web-vortex From Hell from whence it came, no doubt.
And, finally dear blog reader, here's the greatest article in the history of the Interweb, Research Shows That Eating Chocolate Cake For Breakfast Is Good For The Brain And The Waistline. It's only what this blogger's been saying for years.

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