Friday, March 24, 2017

Hell Is Empty & All The Devils Are Here

The BBC have released a number of publicity images to tie-in with the new series of Doctor Who, due to premiere in the UK on the 15 April 2017. And very tasty they are too. Here are but a few of them.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE)'s classic Doctor Who comedy sketch The Curse Of Fatal Death has been re-released online for Red Nose Day. The 1999 story broadcast as part of that year's Comic Relief telethon, saw Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Grant, Richard E Grant, Jim Broadbent and Joanna Lumley among the Time Lord's many - future - faces. The four-part twenty three-minute parody paid properly affectionate tribute to the, at-the-time-cancelled, series and was stuffed full of outrageous SF technobabble, multiple regenerations and a gloating Master (played by a brilliantly over-the-top Jonathan Pryce). The whole thing was greatly appreciated by fans at the time but has rather been forgotten bin the years since, due in no small part to its otherwise unavailability. Now you have the chance to watch it all over again, with the sketch re-released in honour of Comic Relief in all its mad Moffatesque glory.
On a somewhat related note, Comic Relief is also offering 'the first opportunity ever created' to enjoy a Full English Breakfast in the company of seven Doctors. The Wolseley on Piccadilly will be hosting 'this landmark meal' where, for the first time in Doctor Who's fifty four year history, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and The Rubbish One will 'meet to break bread and talk TARDIS.' And, there will be bacon, sausage and eggs. And tea. And toast. No butter, though ... cos Colin Baker's already scoffed it all. Allegedly. Inside 'its hallowed hall, the meal of meals will take place,' according to the press release. 'An epic event, a world first and a legendary opportunity to witness history in the making.' To win the chance to join the actors, dear blog reader, you need to enter the prize draw and join a five quid waiting list. Yes, a mere five English pounds enters you for a chance to join the seven Doctors for what is being described as 'the most historic breakfast in the history of television.' The event will take place at some stage between September 2017 and May 2018 and Comic Relief will give you as much noticed as possible once the date is confirmed so you can, you know, be there - having paid for the privilege. To enter - if you've got five knicker to spare and are so inclined - follow the link. And remember, three quarters of a full English is fried and, therefore, will probably kill you in the long run. This was a public service announcement (without guitars).
The Australian broadcaster ABC have announced a new half-hour panel show to tie in with the forthcoming tenth series of Doctor Who. Based around fans of the show, Whovians will be shown on Sunday evenings from 16 April at around 8:30pm on ABC2, straight after the latest episode has been broadcast on ABC. Though, why the hell any Aussie Doctor Who fan - of whom there are many - with an ounce of dignity or self-respect in their bodies should want to appear on something using that hateful and thoroughly discredited 'Trekkie'-like term is another question entirely. And, one this blogger feels it his duty to ask. 'Whovians are about to get a whole lot more galactic as Rove McManus and his team of superfans present a brand new half hour panel show to dissect, delve into and delight in the world of Doctor Who,' claims the - rather hyperventilating - press release. 'Airing straight after the weekly premiere of the much anticipated Doctor Who series ten on ABC, Whovians will be filmed in front of a live studio audience.' All of whom, one hopes, will make it abundantly clear to the producers of this ... thing that the word 'Whovian' was invented by some American students (who were presumably tripping on drugs at the time) in the late-1970s who had decided that since Star Trek fans had a word to describe themselves (apart from 'pillocks', obviously), then they wanted one too. No Doctor Who fan with any degree of self-worth uses it or anything even remotely like it. Anyway, back to the show. As well as unpacking the most recent episode, Rove and the team will 'open the doors of the TARDIS' and 'go back through the annals of time' to 'lovingly analyse, critique, and unravel' the mysteries of this much loved globally renowned series. All of which, to be fair, sounds terrific and one hopes that the programme will be a great success. Just, you know, get a proper bloody name for it. Time Team might be a good one! Rove is reported to be 'a long time Doctor Who enthusiast' - in which case, he should know what a divisive and contentious thing the 'W' word is - and will be joined by other 'self-confessed Doctor Who superfans,' Tegan Higginbotham, Adam Richard and Steven 'Bajo' O'Donnell, as well as a roster of celebrity guests. Brian Minchin, the Executive Producer of Doctor Who - who should also damn-well know better - added: 'Whovians will be the perfect companion piece for the thrilling new series of Doctor Who on ABC. It's fantastic to have this exciting new program to delight Australian fans.' Gertcha.
       This blogger is jolly displeased by this malarkey, dear blog reader. It makes him angry. And, you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
He is also of the opinion that the world, and everything in it, is sick and wrong, dear blog reader. Just, you know, for a bit of perspective on ... everything.
Richard Hammond has reassured fans that he is 'fine' after falling off his motorbike while filming for The Grand Tour. The Hamster had been in Mozambique shooting the Amazon Prime show when he had the accident. His co-star, yer actual Jezza Clarkson, told the Sun newspaper that Hammond 'hurt himself quite badly.' Hammond thanked fans on Monday for their concern and said that there was 'no lasting damage.' Writing on social media site DriveTribe, he said: 'It's true, I did fall off a motorbike whilst filming recently for The Grand Tour in Mozambique. I banged my head, yes, along with pretty much everything else apart from my left thumb, which remains un-bruised. Can't tell you more yet about the how and why of it; that's all for later in the year on the show. As for injuries; well put it this way, I don't think I can get a book out of it.' In an earlier post, he said 'I'm fine' and described the accident as 'a slight shunt,' adding that he 'fell off a bike, many times.' It is not known exactly when the incident happened but Clarkson tweeted about being in Mozambique to do some filming in early March. In 2006, of course, Hamster suffered life-threatening head injuries following a high-speed crash as he filmed for the BBC's Top Gear. The presenter was in a coma for a fortnight but later made a full recovery. Much to the disappointment of many Middle Class hippy Communists at the Gruniad Morning Star and goose-stepping bullyboy thug lice at the Daily Scum Mail.
If American Top Gear fans haven't been won over by the show's current presenting line-up then an alternative is coming. A new US version of the popular car show is being made by BBC America with the actor William Fichtner among the hosts. Fichtner is known for such films as The Dark Knight, Crash and Black Hawk Down and TV series like Prison Break, The West Wing, Crossing Lines and Invasion. He will be joined by drag racer Antron Brown and car journalist Tom Wookie Ford. The new US show will premiere later this year and will have eight hour-long episodes. It will be shown on BBC America alongside the current British version - you know, the one with Joey out of Friends which is actually starting to get decent again after the disaster that was last series. The Top Gear website said that The Stig 'would be present,' as would a weekly guest celebrity and 'the cars that have defined America's past, racing across the highways and historic tracks of the American West.' It is not known at this time whether the US Top Gear will be broadcast in the UK, although other BBC America series are available. For example, Orphan Black and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency are available on Netflix in Britain. A previous American version of Top Gear was shown on BBC3 in the UK, albeit it was about as popular as a big red throbbing wart on ones little chap. That programme, which was broadcast on The History Channel in the US, was very cancelled last year.
TV comedy line of the week: Julian Clary from his - excellent - Sky Arts documentary Passions about his hero, Noel Coward, on the subject of his buying Noel's former home in Kent: 'When I first took the keys to this house I realised that - like Pamela Anderson on her first night with Tommy Lee - I'd taken on something huge!'
Second TV comedy line of the week: The moment in Friday's semi-final episode of Only Connect when, during a question about people who had changed their name, images of David Bowie and Davy Jones were shown to one of the teams. 'Is that Liam Gallagher?' asked their captain. No, mate, it really isn't. Born in the same town, admittedly, but still ...
Mind you, the following bit, as ice formed on the upper reaches of Victoria Coren Mitchell at the very suggestion was pretty funny as well.
The final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Six programmes broadcast, week-ending Sunday 19 March 2017:-
1 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 9.71m
2 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 8.18m
3 The Replacement - Tues BBC1 - 7.91m
4 Vera - Sun ITV - 7.73m
5 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.53m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.06m
7 EastEnders - Thurs BBC1 - 6.81m
8 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.57m
9 FA Cup Match Of The Day Live: Moscow Chelski FC Versus The Scum - Mon BBC1 - 6.43m
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.47m
11 Prime Suspect 1973 - Thurs ITV - 5.16m
12 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.03m
13 The Real Marigold Hotel - Wed BBC1 - 5.01m
14 Antiques Roadshow - Sun ITV - 4.95m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.93m
16 Rugby Six Nations Live: Ireland Versus England - Sat ITV - 4.80m
17 The Voice - Sat ITV - 4.78m
18 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.73m
19 The Big Painting Challenge - Sun BBC1 - 4.40m
20 Benidorm - Wed ITV - 4.33m
21 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.22m
22 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.19m
23= Shop Well For Lee? - Thurs BBC1 - 4.10m
23= Six Nations Rugby: France Versus Wales - Sat BBC1 - 4.10m
25 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 3.90m
26 Lets Sing & Dance For Comic Relief - Sat BBC1 - 3.71m
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. ITV's latest horrifying pile of stinking, rancid diarrhoea designed to provide Dawn French with wholly unworthy employment, Little Big Shits, lost a further ninety viewers between episode two and episode three, falling to 3.30 million whilst the equally crappy Five Gold Rings could manage but 2.82 million. Which does, rather, restore a smidgen of ones faith in the viewing public as knowing a rotten turd - or two - when they see one. This blogger would love to tell you all how many punters were watching the second week of The Nightly Show, dear blog reader, but 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 for The Great Pottery Throw Down (3.14 million), followed by Top Gear (3.13 million punters - down around four hundred thousand from the previous episode). Gardeners' World was watched by 2.78 million, The Last Kingdom by 2.68 million, Dame Vera Lynn: Happy One Hundredth Birthday by 2.59 million, University Challenge by 2.57 million and Mary Berry Everyday by 2.33 million. Down The Mighty River With Steve Backshall attracted 2.26 million viewers, Back To The Land With Kate Humble, 2.03 million and The Best Of British Takeaways, 1.90 million. Dad's Army was seen by 1.89 million viewers, followed by The House That One Hundred Thousand Pounds Built (1.78 million), Only Connect (1.77 million), Wild Ireland: The Edge Of The World (1.75 million), Antiques Road Trip (1.62 million), 1066: A Year To Conquer England (also 1.62 million) and Inside Number Nine (1.50 million). Robot Wars drew 1.44 million. The returning Gogglebox was Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast (3,25 million punters), followed by The Secret Life Of The Zoo (2.05 million), The Supervet (1.91 million), A Very British Hotel (1.84 million), The Last Leg With Adam Hills (1.71 million) and The Mystery of The Man On The Moor (also 1.71 million). Homeland had 1.70 million, The Royal House Of Windsor, 1.62 million, Twenty Four Hours In A&E 1.55 million and Hidden Restaurants With Michel Roux Junior, 1.34 million. Grossly over-rated lack-of-comedy Catastrophe was seen by 1.19 million, less than Scuffts: Britain's Favourite Dog (1.31 million) but, more than Rivers With Jeremy Paxman (nine hundred and ten thousand). Which, frankly, says so much about what a right shite state of affairs exist in this country right now. That Awful Keith Woman At Her Majesty's Service had but seven hundred and forty thousand. Inside Buckingham Palace was Channel Five's top performer with an audience of 1.56 million, ahead of GPs: Behind Closed Doors (1.46 million viewers), Tony Robinson: Coast To Coast (1.38 million), another example of Channel Five's demonising of the poor, The Great British Benefits Handout (1.31 million), Secrets Of the National Trust With Alan Bloody Tithead (1.30 million), The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door (1.18 million) and NCIS (1.09 million). Coverage of Live Premier League: Sheikh Yer Man City Versus Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws on Sky Sports 1 was seen by 1.85 million punters whilst the game between Stottingtot Hotshots and Southampton drew 1.18 million and West Bromwich Albinos versus The Arse had seven hundred and fifty thousand (plus an additional seventy two thousand on Sky Mix). The Championship clash between Dirty Leeds and Brighton & Hove Albinos attracted four hundred and thirteen thousand. On Sky Sports 2, Live SPFL: Dundee Versus Glasgow Celtic attracted one hundred and forty nine thousand punters. La Liga coverage of Barcelona Versus Valencia had eighty one thousand (and a further forty four thousand on Sky Mix). F1 Midweek Report drew twenty thousand punters to Sky F1. Gillette Soccer Saturday was, as usual, top of the pile on Sky Sports News HQ, with five hundred and thirty four thousand punters and three hundred and seven thousand watching the Sky Sports 1 simultcast. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by Modern Family (nine hundred and six thousand viewers). The Flash was seen by eight hundred and seventy eight thousand, Stan Lee's Lucky Man by eight hundred and seventy five thousand, NCIS: Los Angeles by eight hundred and eleven thousand, Hawaii Five-0 by seven hundred and eighty nine thousand and The Blacklist by seven hundred and eighty five thousand. DC's Legends Of Tomorrow attracted five hundred and seventy four thousand viewers whilst Supergirl pulled-in five hundred and nineteen lovers of Melissa Benoist's shapely thighs. And, hey, why ever not? Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the opening episode of the much-trailed Big Little Lies (seven hundred and sixty four thousand) whilst Billions was seen by three hundred and eighty nine thousand. Blue Bloods had three hundred and fifty seven thousand, Midnight Sun Cirque Du Soleil, two hundred and thirty two thousand, Fortitude, two hundred and twenty five thousand, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, two hundred and four thousand and Girls, one hundred and fifty six thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of Elementary was seen by 1.05 million whilst Bones had eight hundred and seventy thousand, Criminal Minds drew eight hundred and fifty three thousand, Grey's Anatomy, five hundred and sixty thousand, Madam Secretary, five hundred and forty three thousand and the dreadful Scandal, four hundred and nine thousand. Sky Arts' Portrait Artist Of The Year was watched by three hundred and fifty nine thousand viewers - an 'uge figure for the channel - whilst Frank Sinatra: In Concert, had fifty two thousand and Alexander Armstrong: Fine Tuned, thirty eight thousand. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (eight hundred and ten thousand viewers). Lewis was seen by six hundred and eighty thousand and It'll Be Alright On The Night by five hundred and five thousand. ITV Racing headed ITV4's weekly list with three hundred and seventy three thousand punters. Benidorm drew three hundred and seventeen thousand. Piers Brosnan's Bond debut, Goldeneye attracted two hundred and ninety eight thousand. ITV2's most-watched broadcasts were for Ibiza Weekend (seven hundred and five thousand) and Scorpion (six hundred and thirty six thousand). Worthless, vomit encrusted example of everything that is wrong with British television - and, indeed, British society - in the Twenty First Century Release The Hounds: Famous & Freaked was watched by four hundred and fifty three thousand planks. Every single one of whom should, frankly, be horsewhipped through the streets to a place of public execution unless they promise never to watch this odious, sinister crap again. Scott & Bailey headed ITV Encore's top ten with fifty two thousand viewers, followed by DCI Banks (fifty thousand) and Vera (forty seven thousand). The Only Way Is Essex was seen by 1.02 million of the sort of people who enjoy this exercise in celebrity-by-non-entity on ITV Be. BBC4's list was topped by Pedalling Dreams: The Raleigh Story (six hundred and fifteen thousand viewers) and Rich Hall's Countrier Than You (five hundred and ten thousand). Next came The Natural World (five hundred and five thousand), She-Wolves: England's Early Queens (four hundred and ninety two thousand), Follow The Money (four hundred and seventy one thousand) and Lost Land Of The Volcano (four hundred and forty two thousand). Timewatch was watched by four hundred and thirty five thousand, Britain's Outlaws: Highwaymen, Pirates & Rogues, by four hundred and twenty nine thousand and The Good Old Days, by four hundred and fourteen thousand. 5USA's Person Of Interest was viewed by six hundred and eighty six thousand viewers, NCIS by five hundred and twenty three thousand and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit by four hundred and sixty two thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly top tens of Channel Five, CBS Action (ninety seven thousand) and FOX (eight hundred and fifty eight 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 1.48 million. Bull had five hundred and eighteen thousand. The really disappointing 24: Legacy continued to shed viewers with four hundred and sixty six thousand (and the sound of Jack Bauer turning in his grave) whilst Legion was seen by three hundred and eighty eight thousand (and, in this blogger's opinion, gets better as it gets weirder, episode-by-episode). 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. Pride & Prejudice had four hundred and seventy eight thousand whilst 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 Steel Magnolias and XXX, were seen by sixty nine thousand and sixty two thousand respectively. Hustle drew thirty eight 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 five hundred and six thousand viewers who enjoy large bearded men shouting at each other and at the camera. Fast N' Loud had two hundred and eighty three thousand. Alaskan Bush People was seen by two hundred and six thousand and Diesel Brothers by one hundred and nine thousand whilst Moonshiners drew ninety three thousand and Wheeler Dealers, seventy six thousand. Episodes of From The North favourite Wheeler Dealers also topped the weekly lists of both Discovery Shed (sixty four thousand) and Discovery Turbo (fifty eight thousand). Discovery History's The Russian Revolution In Colour headed the top ten-list with forty two thousand. Time Team attracted thirty nine thousand and The Jesus Code, thirty one thousand. On Discovery Science, How It's Made was seen by fifty six thousand viewers. On Quest, Salvage Hunters was watched by four hundred and eighty five thousand and another episode of Wheeler Dealers was seen by two hundred and sixty three thousand. Pick's Britain's Most Evil Killers had three hundred and twelve thousand, Cop Squad drew two hundred and sixty five thousand and Murdered That Shocked The Shit Out of The Nation, attracted two hundred and forty one thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by Air Crash Investigation which had one hundred and twenty two thousand viewers and Car SOS (one hundred and twenty one thousand). National Geographic Wild's Africa's Hunters was watched by forty two thousand. Snakes In The City was seen by thirty one thousand. The History Channel's weekly list was topped by Forged In Fire (one hundred and ninety seven thousand) and Black Sails (one hundred and four thousand). On Military History, Ancient Top Ten was watched by forty three thousand punters and Ancient Aliens by twenty seven thousand. Evil Lives Here, Murder Comes To Town, Who Killed Jane Doe? and Shadow of Doubt were ID's top-rated programmes with sixty four thousand, fifty seven thousand, fifty five thousand and fifty three thousand blood-and-snots-lovers, respectively. It's a reet laugh, is ID. Crime That Shook Australia, Unusual Suspects, Homicide Hunter and Cold Case Files headed CI's list (fifty five thousand, forty five thousand, forty four thousand and forty three thousand). 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 (three hundred and thirty thousand). Your TV's repeat of Bones series six continued with an audience of one hundred and seven thousand. On More4, Walks With My Dog was the highest-rated programme with four hundred and ninety seven thousand. Come Dine With Me attracted four hundred and sixty one thousand punters and Four In A Bed, four hundred and twenty thousand. E4's list was topped by The Big Bang Theory, the latest episode attracting 2.47 million viewers, by an 'uge distance the largest multi-channels audience of the week. Hollyoaks drew 1.13 million viewers. 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 five thousand. Land Of The Dead was seen by seventy six thousand and Star Trek: The Next Generation, by fifty seven thousand. Planet Earth was watched by thirty eight thousand on Eden whilst Life On Earth: A New Prehistory attracted thirty six thousand viewers. Doctor Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet and Animal Cops Miami were the Animal Planet's most-watched programme both with thirty five thousand. 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 twenty five thousand. The Night Bus drew sixty six 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 Cake Boss (one hundred and forty one thousand). Ex On The Beach on MTV was viewed by eight hundred and forty nine thousand.

Anyone looking for a new gig? Try this one for size.
A Strictly Come Dancing live 'spectacular' (and, one uses that word quite wrongly) has experienced less-than-spectacular ticket sales, leading organisers to pull the plug on it. The four-day event was to have been held at London's Excel Centre in June. But, now, it isn't. 'Demand for this event has not been as strong as we had hoped so we've taken the difficult decision to cancel it,' reads a post on its website. The event had promised ticket holders 'a day full of entertainment, dance, interviews, music, glamour and style.' Yet it had been criticised for imposing an additional fee on visitors to have photographs taken with the show's stars. Strictly Come Dancing: The Spectacular was due to have featured presenters Tess Daly and Zoe Ball alongside judges Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli. A number of the programme's z-list celebrity contestants were also expected to attend, as were dancers Anton Du Beke, Gorka Marquez and Katya Jones. Organised by BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, with events company SME London, the event was to have featured a 'brand-new ninety-minute theatre show.' Attendees would also been treated to 'an unrivalled shopping experience featuring a showcase of carefully selected lifestyle and fashion brands.' So, obviously, the cancellation is nothing short of a national tragedy.
Channel Five has defended broadcasting a documentary about George Michael's final hours after the singer's former band mate - the not-very-talented one - dubbed it 'sensationalist and mucky.' Andrew Ridgeley took to social media on Thursday to criticise the show, titled The Last Days Of George Michael. The former Wham! type person said that the channel had been 'insensitive, contemptuous and reprehensible' and should have waited until after his friend's funeral. Channel Five said that it was 'a measured account' of Michael's life and death. 'George Michael was a high-profile public figure and there has been legitimate public interest in the circumstances surrounding his death,' the broadcaster weaselled in a statement. It claimed that the documentary, which was broadcast at 9pm on Thursday, had been 'based on contributions from those who knew him and reported on him over many decades.' Ridgeley called the programme 'a piece of voyeurism' which should only have been aired 'after a respectful period.' Although, he neglected to say how long that period should've been. It was confirmed earlier this month that Michael died on Christmas Day as a result of heart and liver disease. Fans of the late singer called Channel Five's programme 'pathetic', 'disrespectful' and 'utter trash' on Twitter. Because, of course, Twitter is now the sole arbiter of the worth of all things. Apparently. One complainer, who whinged directly to the broadcaster, received a reply saying it was not the show's intention 'to upset or cause any offence.' Although what the show's intent was they didn't say. To make lot of money for Channel Five's advertisers, presumably. Anyone else miss the days when Channel Five was run by a soft-core pornographer and, therefore, made no bones about how worthless it was?
The Big Bang Theory has been renewed for another two years. There had been speculation about whether the popular US sitcom would end at the current series ten, but CBS said it has struck a deal with producers to keep it on-air until 2019 at least. The main cast, made up or Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar are all signed-up to continue in the show. Deals are still being negotiated with their co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch. Earlier this month it was reported that the five stars of the show had agreed to take pay cuts to make sure Rauch and Bialik would get raises. Parsons and the other original stars are said to earn around a million dollars per episode, while Rauch and Bialik are thought to make about two hundred thousand bucks. They offered to take less to free up five hundred thousand dollars (for Rauch and Bialik, who did not join the programme until the third series and are, as a consequence, paid less. As well as the confirmation of the new series, a prequel called Young Sheldon was recently confirmed to start later this year. It has been created by Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro, the executive producers behind the original comedy. Young Sheldon will star Iain Armitage as a nine-year-old Sheldon Cooper. Jim Parsons, who plays the adult Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, will narrate the new show.
Grayson Perry has picked up both the best presenter and best arts programme prizes at the Royal Television Society awards in London for his latest Channel Four show. 'In your face, David Attenborough!' the artist 'joked' - rather meanly, even if it was meant in jest - as he came to the stage to collect his award for Grayson Perry: All Man. Speaking about the documentary, which saw Perry explore the modern view of masculinity, he said: 'The conversations I had with people on the streets are really what we want to be talking about now and that's why I feel like I'm doing the right thing. Good television should have that water cooler effect of starting conversations – I have had taxi drivers talk to me about it and that's lovely. It's not my day job so I feel pretty good that I've just wandered unexpectedly into television and we've struck a nerve. But I think it would alter my relationship with television if I went full time. I quite like being the artist who just rocks up in front of the camera, so I don't get too up myself.' The awards were presented by Sandi Toksvig, who last week was announced as one of the new hosts of The Great British Bake Off, alongside That Bloody Weirdo Noel Fielding. The original planned host, Piers Morgan, pulled out last month allegedly after a campaign claiming his involvement would be 'damaging' and 'inappropriate' but, actually, because he's an odious oily fekker and no one can stand him. Other big winners for the night were Ant and/or Dec who picked up the prize for best entertainment show for Saturday Night Takeaway. As the pair accepted the award, they said that their dream guest would be Adele: 'We've never quite made it work because of all her tours and albums and stuff, but we could have a lot of fun with her. If you all put the pressure on from your end and we put the pressure on from our end, maybe we can make it happen,' the said. Or, at least, one of them did unless they chanted it in unison of spoke with one voice as if they were some sort of hideous gestalt entity against all laws of God and man. The cheeky-chappie doon Th' Bigg Market George duo said that they would stay in the job for 'as long as people are watching.' The soap and continuing drama award was claimed by Emmerdale, with its producer Iain MacLeod saying the show was finally receiving 'the recognition it deserves.' As the nation's third most popular soap, on imagines. BBC3 - you remember that, it used to be a TV channel - won the 'channel of the year' award, in an example of almost perverse 'we're going to give this an award even though nobody watches it just to show how "street" and "cool" we are' style malarkey which most TV awards are guilty of once in a which. The creator of BBC3's 'cult hit comedy' Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, won the breakthrough award. And, when we say 'cult hit comedy' we mean, something that is quite funny but only has an audience of two men and their dog (although, admittedly, all three of those, love it the mostest, baby). Julie Walters, picked up a lifetime achievement award recognising an acting career across film and television genres that has already spanned more than forty years. After joking that it was the 'old people's award,' she said: 'It's absolutely gorgeous, I'm thrilled. I always get excited at things like this, being surrounded by people I know, I'm like a Jack Russell dog.' In so much as she will think nothing of yapping incessantly, shagging your leg when you least expect it and piddling all over your floor if you don't let her out to do it in the garden. A 'self-confessed' fan of Bake Off, Walters told the Press Association that she was also looking forward to seeing what the new presenter set-up would bring: 'I am so sad it has gone from the BBC, but I will definitely be watching the next series. I love Sandi and it will be very interesting to see how it transfers. It will just be a different experience from Mary Berry and maybe that will be good - who's to say?'
Ukraine has barred Russia's Eurovision Song Contest contestant because she performed in Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014. Julia Samoilova was banned from entering Ukraine for three years because of her 'illegal' visit, the Ukrainian SBU security service said. Samoilova has confirmed that she sang in Crimea in 2015. Ukraine is due to host this year's Eurovision event in Kiev, in May. The European Broadcasting Union, which founded Eurovision, said that it was 'deeply disappointed' by the news -the banning of Samoilova, that is, not the Russain-backed annexing of Crimea. 'We have to respect the local laws of the host country, however we are deeply disappointed in this decision as we feel it goes against both the spirit of the contest and the notion of inclusivity that lies at the heart of its values,' it said in a statement. The EBU said that it would 'continue a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the aim of ensuring that all artists can perform' in Kiev. Senior Russian politicians have called for a boycott of the event. The SBU has blacklisted at least one hundred and forty other Russian artists. Russia and Ukraine have been 'at loggerheads' (that's a media euphemism for 'on the verge of all-out war') since the annexation of Crimea and subsequent fighting in East Ukraine, which Moscow is accused of stoking. Ukraine is hosting the Eurovision competition after its own singer, Jamala, caused something of an upset by winning in Sweden last year. Her song, '1944', was about Joseph Stalin's mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars during World War Two. The SBU had said earlier that it would 'verify information' about Samoilova's visit to Crimea and 'take a decision.' Responding to the ban, Russian state TV's Channel One, which broadcasts Eurovision, said in a statement: 'Ukraine didn't even have the common sense to make use of this opportunity to look like a civilised country.' Which, coming from Russia is bit 'pot-kettle-black' perhaps.
A four hundred and thirty-million-year-old fossil discovered 'frozen in time"' in ancient volcanic rock has been named after Sir David Attenborough. The tiny crustacean, measuring less than one centimetre long, was found by researchers in Herefordshire. It has been named Cascolus Ravitis, the first word a Latin rendering of the Old English equivalent to Attenborough. Ravitis is a reference to the Roman name for Leicester, where Sir David lived on the city's university campus when growing up. The fossil was given its name by researchers from the universities of Oxford, Leicester, Yale and Imperial College London. Sir David said: 'The biggest compliment that a biologist or palaeontologist can pay to another one is to name a fossil in his honour and I take this as a very great compliment.' The fossil is the latest in a long list of species and objects to be named after the famous naturalist and broadcaster.
The BBC has angrily defended its record on impartiality after it was accused of 'anti-Brexit bias' by a group of mainly Tory-scum MPs. In a carefully worded response to a letter signed by seventy MPs and published - of course - in the Daily Scum Mail and Daily Torygraph (where else?), the Director General Tony Hall wrote: 'Impartiality has always been the cornerstone of BBC News. It remains so today.' Sadly, he stopped short of calling this bollocks exactly what it is, a politically motivated attempt to bully the BBC by a bunch of louse scum with a sick agenda smeared all over their disgusting faces. Hall indicated that he had first seen the letter, which accused the BBC of giving 'too much airtime to remain supporters' and which was co-ordinated by the Tory scum MP Julian Knight, after it was published by the Scum Mail and Torygraph.
'We go to great lengths to ensure that we balance our coverage and address all issues from a wide range of different perspectives. It is one of the reasons why the public trusts the BBC more than any other source of news. I agree with you that these are consequential times. For that reason, it is more important than ever that the BBC's journalism is independent of political pressure,' he said. Hall added his total support to the BBC's political, economics and business editors - who are most often scrutinised for signs of bias. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, 'senior insiders' - sadly, anonymous and, therefore, quite possibly fictitious - had said that the BBC had been 'encouraged' by the fact the letter contained 'little evidence' of the sort of bias the BBC was accused of, just a lot of hot wind and breast-beating cockery. The criticism was largely directed at a clip on the Victoria Derbyshire show, in which voters expressed their doubts about Brexit, a study of pro-EU speakers on Radio 4 and a BBC producer who was pictured on an anti-Brexit campaign boat during last year's referendum. Yet, one reporter admitted that the political pressure could have an impact as it 'adds more pressure on us to parse every line for signs of bias.' The letter of complaint was signed by former cabinet ministers that odious slapheed twat Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villiers, two Tory peers, three Labour MPs (who ought to be sodding well ashamed of themselves getting so happily into bed with the likes of these people), eight Democratic Unionist party MPs, two DUP peers and UKiP's only MP. Quelle surprise. Addressed to both Hall and the incoming BBC chairman David Clementi, the letter claimed that the BBC has 'fallen far short' of its obligation to provide balanced coverage, warning 'if politicians and the public don't view it as an impartial broker, then the future of the BBC will be in doubt.' Which sounds suspiciously like a politically motivated threat to interfere in the BBC's internal affairs something which the BBC's Royal Charter specifically prohibits. 'We know many leave-voting constituencies have felt their views have been unfairly represented,' it whinged, accusing the BBC of focusing on those who 'regret' backing Brexit 'despite there being no polling shift towards remain since the referendum.' The letter went on to suggest that the BBC have 'a much larger market share than any newspaper' and could use this power to 'influence' EU negotiations. 'By misrepresenting our country either as xenophobic or regretful of the leave vote, the BBC will undermine our efforts to carve out a new, global role for this country,' the letter whinged. 'We are, therefore, asking you to take steps to correct these flaws in the BBC's coverage of our EU exit at the earliest moment.' The group also claimed the BBC had 'skewed' allegedly 'good' economic news since the June referendum, adding: 'So-called "despite Brexit" reporting may be expected of a partisan press, but licence fee-payers have the right to expect better.' The BBC has said the fact that most economists expected the uncertainty to affect markets justified the 'despite Brexit' line. Following the front-page reports of the BBC Brexit bias storm, Nick Robinson, the former political editor and Today programme presenter, tweeted the following:
Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson (Power to the people!) and the former Conservative minister Nicky Morgan also offered support for the BBC on social media. The Sunday night hit Countryfile has also been criticised following a report this weekend on the fears of farmers over seasonal workers and a possible migration ban. By Tuesday morning, after the critical reports, the BBC said that complaints about the show added up to 'double figures,' which were 'not enough for a complaints response to be published.' Countryfile records audience figures of about seven million punters per week so, you know, a dozen whingers whinging adds up a tiny fraction of a fraction of one per cent of the show's audience. In his letter to Knight, Hall wrote: 'We will continue to listen respectfully and respond wherever appropriate. Above all, we will guard our independence, report the news diligently and impartially, and continue to fulfil our mission on behalf of all our audiences.' Sadly, he didn't take the opportunity to tell Knight to go screw himself and the horse he rode in on. Which is to be regretted.
Channel Four, ITV and Channel Five are all backing the BBC's push for new laws guaranteeing their shows will get more prominent positions on streaming services than competitors such as Sky or Netflix. The House of Lords will debate an amendment to the digital economy bill on Monday that would extend rules giving the UK's public service broadcasters 'top billing' on electronic programme guides. As more viewers turn to streaming and on-demand services, the broadcasters are concerned that their programmes may not be as easy to find and that commercial rivals such as Sky could 'prioritise' their own shows instead. Channel Four's chief marketing and communications officer, Dan Brooke, said that it was 'important' that regulation 'kept pace' with changing habits. 'This proposed update is vital to ensure that audiences can continue to easily find the high-quality programmes that they love most from Channel Four and the other public service broadcasters,' he said. Though neither ITV nor Channel Five has publicly backed the amendment, both support it. According to the Gruniad, an alleged ITV 'source' allegedly said that the company 'wanted the prominence' of PSB channels 'preserved' in a changing environment, adding: 'People are watching television differently and viewers need to be able to continue to easily find PSB channels.' An alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - Channel Five 'source' allegedly said that the broadcaster 'broadly supports the principle' of PSB prominence. Though they are run commercially, Channel Four, ITV and Channel Five are designated as public service broadcasters and operate on tighter licences than rivals overseen by regulator Ofcom. The BBC has led the push for legislation to preserve their prominence online, with its head of strategy, James Purnell, writing in the Torygraph on Monday that public service broadcasters risked 'dropping out of view' as viewers move online. 'If we don't update the rules, we're at serious risk of losing something very special about our British culture,' he said. The amendment, tabled by Labour peer Lord Wood, would be especially galling for Sky, which argues that its new personalised services, such as Sky Q, are simply giving consumers 'what they want.' Or, rather, why Sky wants. The main page of Sky Q promotes 'Top Picks' chosen by the broadcaster – the majority of which are, stunningly, Sky's own programming – and 'personalised recommendations' based on previous viewing. In a statement, Sky called the BBC's arguments 'disingenuous' and bemoaned its refusal to allow Sky customers to see BBC shows individually within Sky's on-demand platform rather than requiring viewers to use the iPlayer app. It went on: 'The BBC needs to get with the times and allow consumers to view content they have already paid for alongside the content of other PSB's and commercial broadcasters.' If successful, the Lords amendment would have to be agreed by the House of Commons. However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is opposed to the legislation, saying it would be 'anti-competitive.' In a statement, a spokesman said: 'With users increasingly able to personalise their own homepage for on-demand services, it would not be in their interests to legislate against this progress.' The proposed amendment would also give children's programming from PSBs greater prominence. Purnell has said that BBC channels such as CBBC and CBeebies, which account for the bulk of UK-made children's shows, should be further up the programme guide than commercial channels aimed at children, most of which show US programming.
Channel Four News has admitted rather stupidly naming the wrong man as the main suspect in this week's horrific London terror attack. Trevor Brooks – known as Abu Izzadeen – was identified on-air as the man suspected of being responsible for the events at Westminster during a live broadcast. Simon Israel, the Senior Home Affairs Correspondent for Channel Four News, confirmed his mistake on Twitter, admitting: 'I got it wrong.' Channel Four also confirmed the error in a grovelling statement soon afterwards, saying that Israel 'quoted a "source" wrongly claiming the identity of the alleged Westminster attacker was believed to be Abu Izzadeen. This is not the case and we apologise to our viewers for the error.' Though, interestingly, they didn't apologise to Izzadeen himself who, perhaps more than Channel Four News's viewers, had a right to be 'a bit vexed' about this malarkey even if he has been a bit of a naughty scallywag in the past. That hippy Communist Jon Snow was forced to interrupt the live broadcast and make the correction after Izzadeen's brother, Yusuf Brooks, contacted Channel Four to complain. Snow said: 'We've got a little bit more on this fast-developing story about today's attack in Westminster. Channel Four News has been contacted by Abu Izzadeen's brother, who tells this programme that he is in fact still serving a prison sentence.'
Channel Four's ambitious-but-really-rubbish reality show Eden has come to an end, eight months after the most recent episode was broadcast. In March 2016, twenty three 'volunteers' (or, you know, 'attention-seeking whores' as they are more commonly known) moved to the Scottish Highlands in order to 'start again.' Four episodes of the show were broadcast in July and August of last year, but the cast have only now returned home. Rumours that they were hiding out in shame at having signed up for this malarkey in the first place cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Those participants that made it to the end have, therefore, spent the past twelve months in Scotland whilst less than four hours of footage featuring them was shown. Which some might regard as a bit of an extreme way of getting yourself on telly. A spokesperson for Channel Four could not confirm to whether the participants were actually aware that further episodes were not being broadcast but claimed that footage will be broadcast in 2017. How much, or when, they didn't say. 'When filming began we had no idea what the results would be and how those taking part would react to being isolated for months in a remote part of the British Isles,' a Channel Four representative told BBC's Newsbeat. 'That's why we did it and the story of their time, including the highs and the lows, will be shown later this year.' The Torygraph reported that overnight viewing figures halved from 1.7 million to eight hundred thousand people during those four episodes whilst the Gruniad's Hannah Ellis-Petersen (no, me neither) wrote a particularly sneering article - of the kind the Gruniad specialises in, let it be noted - headlined TV show contestants spend year in wilderness – with no one watching. 'After a year cut off from modern life in the Scottish Highlands, imagine re-emerging to find a world where Donald Trump is US president, Britain has left the EU and Leicester won the Premier League. For the contestants of the Channel Four programme Eden, coming back from isolation means not just coming to terms with 2017 but also the news that their year of toil in the wilderness barely made it on to television,' sneered Hannah. Well done, chuck, what a top bit of 'aren't I, like, the coolest kiddie that ever there was, bar-none?' type shenanigans that was. Bet yer parents are pure-dear proud of you. The last update concerning Eden on Twitter occurred last October. During the four episodes broadcast, one contestant - Tara Zieleman - dramatically quit in a geet stroppy huff after rowing with fellow participants and accusing them of bullying her. 'The show became something of a laughing stock among local residents who said it had been "a joke", with some contestants smuggling in junk food and alcohol,' the Gruniad's article claims. In August, another participant, one Tom Wah, tweeted that he 'left because it wasn't what I was told it was going to be. What you see on TV is all bullshit. You're not seeing the whole picture. The programme is extremely misleading.' On hearing that filming had finally concluded this week, Wah added that Eden was 'a load of rubbish.' Rumours allege that more people had also quit; Channel Four haven't confirmed that although the Gruniad quoting one local snitch suggested that only ten contestants of the original twenty three were left by the time the whole sorry fiasco was wound up. A report by the Aberdeen Press & Journal quotes one local resident, Maria Macpherson, excellently Copper's Narking that participants 'needed to visit a local dentist' after 'eating chicken grit. It has not done this area any favours – it has just not lived up to expectations,' whinged Maria. Channel Four insists that some of the reporting is 'inaccurate.'
Odious oily twat Piers Morgan has promised not to tweet for one whole day - in order to raise money for charity (and, obviously, not in the slightest to create lots of publicity for his very self). Sadly, the odious oily twat will be back to his old tricks the following day.
Liverpool is marking the fiftieth birthday of The Be-Atles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP by asking 'a dizzying array' of performers to 'reinterpret' the songs by the popular beat combo of the 1960s (you might've heard of them) within the city. From choirs to cabaret performers and musicians to artists, each will stage an event inspired by a different song. The LP - first released on 1 June 1967 - regularly comes towards the top of lists of the greatest LP ever made. Even though it's actually not even among the best three LPs released by The Be-Atles their very selves. Just sayin'. The Liverpool festival takes place in May and June and is split into two halves - one for each side of the LP. In order the events will be: 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' - Mark Morris Dance Group will stage the premiere of Pepperland, with a score inspired by Be-Atles songs and performed by a chamber music ensemble. 'With a Little Help From My Friends' - the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller will unveil two public art commissions on the themes of friendship and self-sacrifice. 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' - the French pyrotechnic specialists GroupeF and US electronic composer Scott Gibbons will put on a light show that is billed as 'part performance, part storytelling and part pyro display.' 'Getting Better' - DJ Spooky (no, me neither) will 'create a performance and audio-visual installation' asking whether the world is getting better. Which, is isn't, just in case you were wondering. 'Fixing A Hole' - the US artist Judy Chicago, known for her 'epic installations,' will create her largest work yet - a mural on the side of the grain silo on Great Howard Street. 'She's Leaving Home' - the Liverpool youth theatre company Twenty Stories High will take over people's living rooms in Toxteth to stage a new play about home and housing. Whether the people whose living rooms they will take over have been asked in advance, we don't yet know. 'Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite' - Aintree Racecourse will host an event inspired by John Cage's anarchic Musicircus involving thousands of local people, performers and musicians. 'Within You Without You' - leading Indian musicians will perform in the traditional splendour of St George's Hall to reflect The Be-Atles' links with India. 'When I'm Sixty-Four' - sixty-four choirs of all ages from the city will, ahem, 'come together' to perform a mass sing-along of the track on BBC Radio Merseyside. 'Lovely Rita' - cabaret performer Meow Meow will lead a colourful procession featuring a three hundred-strong brass band up Hope Street, ending in 'a thought-provoking installation.' 'Good Morning Good Morning' - theatres, clubs, galleries and music venues will open their doors at the crack of dawn for one day on 9 June2017. 'Sgt Pepper's Reprise' - an 'unnamed leading artist' will perform, incognito, in 'a surprise venue,' also on 9 June. So, that'll be Paul McCartney playing at The Cavern, probably. 'A Day in the Life' - the writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce and film director Carl Hunter will screen a documentary being shot over twenty four hours on 1 June, the LP's anniversary. The first event - based on the title song - will act as 'an overture' and will take place from 25 to 27 May, with the rest of side one being staged from 1 to 5 June. Side two will take place from 8 to 11 June - except 'A Day in the Life', which will be the finale on 16 June. Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said: 'Sgt Pepper pushed creative boundaries and we want to do exactly the same. This is a festival which brings high-end art into the mainstream and gives it a Liverpool twist which is thought-provoking, sometimes cheeky and always entertaining.'
Plans to create a huge lightning bolt memorial to the late David Bowie in South London have been scrapped after a crowdfunding campaign fell extremely short of its target. The nine metre tall red and blue statue, dubbed the ZiggyZag, was proposed for middle of Brixton, The Grand Dame's birthplace. The campaign needed to raise nine hundred grand but had gathered a mere fifty thousand smackers in pledges by its four-week deadline, so no funds will be taken from people. Organisers say that they still hope create 'an appropriate piece of public art.' The proposed site would have been five streets from Bowie's Stansfield Road birthplace and next to Jimmy C's internationally famous Aladdin Sane mural, which has become a focal point for tributes since the artist's death. The design team behind the project, This Ain't Rock'n'Roll, said that thousands of pounds was pledged within hours of the launch of the campaign in February. 'If someone had told us a year ago that we'd raise fifty thousand pounds from nearly seven hundred wonderful people in just three weeks we wouldn't have believed it possible,' a statement from the group said. 'Thank you from the bottom of our Bowie-obsessed hearts for supporting us. Of course, fifty thousand pounds doesn't go anywhere near realising the ambitions of the ZiggyZag,' they added. 'It will be no surprise to anyone that this crowdfund isn't going to hit its target.' But, the statement added: 'We are still determined to celebrate David Bowie, in Brixton, with a challenging and appropriate piece of public art. We're just going to have to approach the fundraising in a different way.' The proposed memorial took its inspiration from the cover art on Bowie's sixth LP, Aladdin Sane, which was released in 1973. It had the support of Lambeth Council, which began discussing the possibility of a permanent memorial with Bowie's family in 2016.
And now, dear blog reader, this week's 'one tweet which almost justifies Twitter's existence.'
From that, dear blog reader, to this ...
German football legend Franz Beckenbauer has been questioned by Swiss prosecutors over suspected corruption linked to the 2006 World Cup. Der Kaiser is currently being investigated along with three other members of the competition's organising committee. All four are extremely suspected of fraud and corruption, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and misappropriation. Beckenbauer, who headed the bid in 2000, has previously denied being involved in any monkey business, no siree, Bob. 'Today I was interviewed as part of a long scheduled hearing by the Swiss federal prosecutor,' Beckenbauer said, adding: 'I answered his questions.' Which is, you know, good of him. The former Germany captain and coach said that he 'would not share more details' of the case 'out of respect for the prosecutor's office.' The Swiss Attorney General's office told the Associated Press news agency that Beckenbauer had been 'co-operative.' The investigation into allegations that four members of the 2006 World Cup organising committee were involved in fraud and money laundering began in 2015. The other three suspects under criminal investigation are former presidents of the German Football Association Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger and former Secretary-General of the DFB, Horst Rudolf Schmidt. Tax authorities raided the DFB headquarters after it emerged that a secret payment of 6.7 million Euros was made to FIFA in 2005. The case first made headlines in October 2015, when German news magazine Der Spiegel accused Germany of using 'a secret slush fund' to 'buy FIFA votes' in support of its bid to host the 2006 World Cup. The money allegedly came from the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who in 2000 was head of German sportswear giant Adidas. It was, allegedly, provided at the request of Beckenbauer, who led the committee seeking to secure Germany's bid to host the event. He has previously admitted to 'making errors' in relation to the bid but has denied 'deliberate wrongdoing.' Beckenbauer played his first World Cup for West Germany in 1966 in England and captained the team to victory as hosts at the 1974 tournament. The former defender went on to manage the national side to another World Cup victory in 1990 as well as coaching the French side Marseille and German giants Fußball-Club Bayern München.
One of the UK's trickiest waste problems is being tackled by turning the undesirable into the combustible – tampons and incontinence pads are being converted into dry, burnable bales. The new initiative, from a major waste company, compresses the waste into fuel for power stations according to the Gruniad. Huge volumes of what are known in the trade as 'absorbent hygiene products' are produced in the UK. But, it is difficult to deal with as its dampness makes incineration expensive. Dumping the waste in landfill is the other current option, but the material takes decades to degrade and heavy and rising landfill taxes are aiming to end the practice. 'Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue,' said Justin Tydeman, CEO of the PHS group, which developed the new, patented process. PHS removes waste for ninety thousand customers across the UK and Ireland, including many offices, schools and care homes and tackles forty five thousand tonnes of sanitary, nappy and incontinence waste a year. In the new process, the waste is first screened for unwanted items. 'The strangest thing we have found so far was a pair of handcuffs,' said Tydeman. The material is then shredded and squeezed, with the waste liquid disposed of as sewage. The dry material remaining is packed into bales, which can be burned in power stations. The process is being analysed by experts from the University of Birmingham, who will report on how 'environmentally friendly' the new process is in practice, compared to landfill or wet incineration. 'Whether or not it turns out to be a major source of energy in itself, the key thing is we find a good way to handle what is a complex and growing waste stream,' said Tydeman. 'We don't want this stuff just going into the ground.' The use of fuel derived from general refuse is already common in the rest of Europe and is growing in the UK, which exports millions of tonnes of it to the continent. The PHS plant in the West Midlands began testing the new process last year, but on Monday it announced it has moved to commercial-scale operation, currently fifteen per cent of all the waste it receives. The company aims to turn all the forty five thousand tonnes of absorbent hygiene products it handles into bales by the end of 2017. Tydeman expects more such waste in future, as a result of an ageing population: 'The great thing about life today is people are living longer, but what comes with that is often incontinence issues. We want this to be a growing issue, because we want people to live longer.' Disposable nappies are already a huge waste disposal challenge, with three billion a year being thrown away in the UK. Other companies are looking at ways to recycle this waste into things as varied as cat litter, insulation material and fertile soil. One challenge is collecting such waste from homes, but the charity Zero Waste Scotland recently ran a successful trial of kerbside collections of absorbent hygiene products. Another problem is that almost half of women flush tampons down the toilet, rather than disposing of them in the bin. Between one and a half and two billion sanitary items are estimated to be flushed down Britain's netties each year, leading to blocked drains and waste littering rivers and beaches.
On 15 April 2017, if all goes according to plan and the shipment from China arrives on time, a ten-foot tall chicken that looks like President (and hairdo) Donald Trump will be paraded down Market Street in Philadelphia on a pick-up truck. Which will be quite a sight, one imagines. Philly will be one of the one hundred-plus cities in America hosting marches on Tax Day to 'demand' - demand, they say - that Trump release his tax returns, organisers claim. They say they expect thousands to attend. That's thousands of people, not thousands of chickens that look like Donald Trump. There's only one of them. As far as we know.
Even in the Oval Office, it seems, well-known hairdo Donald Trump is obsessed with petty grievances which gnaw at his fragile and towering ego and risk derailing his entire legislative agenda. His disdain for Saturday Night Live, for instance, is well documented and he has been extremely quick to decry many legitimate news organisations as 'fake' while citing Infowars as a bastion of truthful reportage and journalistic integrity. He also once reportedly kicked One Direction out of his hotel after they refused to meet his adult daughter. Though, admittedly, that was funny. Now, however, comes a report of a brewing legal battle between Trump and the teenage owner of a parody cat website.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Trump's lawyers have twice sent 'cease and desist' letters to Lucy, the seventeen-year-old girl behind the website kittenfeed.com. The site allows users to virtually scratch at photos of Trump's head using a cat's paw. 'The fact that, as president, he still has teams going around bothering to shut down silly sites like mine is outrageous,' Lucy told THR. 'Literally all my site is, is punching him with kitten paws. A president should not have the time or care to hire people to shut sites like mine down. He should be running the country, not tweeting about TV ratings or anything else like that.' Word.
Now, here's a story that should appeal to all of those Gruniad-reading hippy Communists who've spent years telling as that McDonald's are evil. According to Indianapolis police, a daughter has been accused of assaulting her mother ... with a cheeseburger. A major part of 'a happy meal', let's remember. Police were allegedly called to a McDonald's drive-thru after reports of a thirty nine year-old daughter assaulting her mother. When they arrived, they found the sixty-year-old mother 'battered and covered in ketchup, mustard and pickles.' She told police that her daughter was arguing with her and 'wanted her to die.' She reportedly took her granddaughter inside the McDonald's to get away from the argument and was then assaulted when she returned to the car. Police are said to be looking for the daughter after she fled the scene in another car. The mother was treated for minor injuries. Related to being covered in scolding hot cheese, no doubt.
A very naughty robbing robber who wrapped herself in bin bags and wore a mask while carrying out a raid at a shop has been extremely jailed. Denise Caisley reportedly brandished two knives during the incident at Costcutters in Barrhead, Renfrewshire, on 1 March last year. The High Court in Glasgow heard how she failed to get any cash after being unable to get a till open. Caisley, who admitted carrying out the robbery, was jailed for three years and ten months. She will also be subject to a twelve-month supervised release order once she is released. The court heard how Caisley had been spotted 'creeping' outside the Costcutters like a ... big creeping thing. Her hands were behind her back and she had a blade in each. Once inside she went behind the counter and tried to force open the till. Prosecutor Mark McGuire said that shoppers escaped as the 'increasingly irate' robber stabbed at the till to get money. Caisley then came outside to demand that staff open the cash register. They refused. CCTV footage played in court showed Caisley return and begin to tear off covers from a cigarette display. McGuire said: 'She then took her time apparently perusing the selection before removing a number of packets.' She eventually also took some alcohol before leaving the store. When caught by police, she was still wearing the bin bags and mask. Two knives were also discovered. Caisley, of Barrhead, initially told police that two 'mystery men' had 'made' her commit the crime. John McElroy, defending, said Caisley had spoken of 'hating herself' for what she had done and 'feeling ashamed.'
Casey Anthony, the Florida mother who was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter in 2011, 'could' join OJ Simpson in 'a controversial new reality show,' the Daily Scum Mail has claimed rather implausibly. What a jolly interesting word 'could' is, don't you think, dear blog reader? The next Prime Minister of Great Britain could be a ten foot plastic chicken that looks like Jeremy Corbyn. But, it's highly unlikely. Anyway, Anthony, is allegedly 'in talks' to co-star with Simpson, who was found not guilty of very murdering his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman in 1995. 'It will give viewers the inside story on the aftermath of living with the horrible crimes they were ultimately acquitted of,' an alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' allegedly told InTouch magazine. 'Of course, there are some barriers in the way for Simpson - not least that he's currently serving a thirty three-year prison stretch after being convicted of armed robbery in 2008,' the Scum Mail reluctantly admit. Which would seem to bring his participation in the alleged show somewhat into question.
White supremacist Andrew Anglin, founder of the Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, has reportedly condemned the racially-motivated murder of a black man in New York City, arguing it 'does not represent White Supremacy' and warning that the attack could lead to 'unfair discrimination' against white supremacists. Which would, of course, be terrible were that to happen. On Monday, James Jackson - a white Army veteran from Baltimore whom authorities say visited New York City with the intent to stalk and kill black men - fatally stabbed Timothy Caughman, a bottle collector who lived in transitional housing. The New York Daily News reports that Jackson is a member of a well-known hate group in Maryland who espouse racist views for more than a decade. Anglin said: 'White supremacists are under no obligation to apologise for this attack. White Supremacy is a religion of peace and the overwhelming majority of White Supremacists are peaceful members of society who do not agree with stabbing random black people with swords.' Which is interesting - and surprising - to know. 'The attack has nothing at all to do with the religion of White Supremacy.' Anglin also warned his fellow white supremacists will 'be subject to unfair scrutiny and prejudice' as a result of this attack, arguing people who dress or look like Neo-Nazis 'will be unfairly discriminated against.' So, probably best to put your SS uniform in the back of the closet for the time being, if you have one. 'It’s time for society to rally around White Supremacists, and show that we don't blame them for the single act of someone who wrongly used their beliefs for evil,' he said. Yeah. Cos, that's going to happen.
(It has been brought to From The North's attention that the preceding image was not one of Andrew Anglin but, rather, 'a Nazi.' This blogger would like to, sincerely, apologise for any distress or confusion this error has caused. To the Nazi. Next ...)
More than ten years after being very executed, Saddam Hussein remains a huge presence in the life of one man. A marine engineer in India does not blame his grandfather for giving him the Iraqi dictator's name twenty five years ago. But, after being refused jobs on over forty occasions, he has concluded that employers are loath to hire him even if his name is marginally different spelt Hussain, rather than Hussein. So this week he went to court to change his name to Sajid. But, the wheels of bureaucracy are turning slowly and so is his jobsearch activities. It may never have opened many doors in India, and has raised eyebrows and grins elsewhere, but one thing was guaranteed: a name like Saddam Hussain was not likely to pass unnoticed. Two years after graduating from Tamil Nadu's Noorul Islam University, the man from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand is feeling the strain. He did well at college, and the majority of his classmates have already found jobs, but shipping companies turn him away. 'People are scared to hire me,' Sajid is quoted by Hindustan Times as saying. He suggests that they 'fear complications' from an encounter with immigration officials across international borders. Sajid thought he might easily get around this obstacle, by getting a new passport, driving licence and other documentation. But, his job applications are still not proceeding smoothly as he cannot provide proof, under his new name, that he went to school and this is proving to be a time-consuming exercise. Another court hearing beckons on 5 May, this time to force authorities to change the name on his secondary school certificates, after which his graduation papers will also need amending. Sajid is not alone in his plight but he may feel more aggrieved than the numerous Saddam Husseins of Iraq, who, similarly, feel cursed with a name that was originally given in tribute to a leader whose legacy is one of a brutal dictator. Mind you, if you think he has problems, poor old Jeff Hitler would like you to give his case a moment of your time.
A suspected burglar has died after seemingly getting trapped in the roof space of a chemist shop, West Yorkshire Police said. The man's body was discovered by staff at Rowlands Pharmacy in Queensbury, near Bradford. It is believed that the man removed roof tiles to get into the building and was then asphyxiated when his clothing became caught in the rafters. The force said it appeared the man had been there for several weeks.
Earlier this month, eighteen-year-old Breana Harmon Talbott of Denison, Texas, ran into a church and told people that she had been kidnapped and raped by three masked black men. Talbott, who was wearing only a bra, T-shirt and underwear, was bloodied and looked battered. News of the incident quickly swept the local community and appears to have incited a series racist tweets on social media. One subreddit, dedicated to Donald Trump, posted the following: 'Three black man kidnapped and gang raped an engaged eighteen year old white girl yesterday. If the races were reversed, this would be national news. These men deserve to be hanged.' It then emerged that Talbott's story was a tissue of lies. According to the Denison Police Department on Wednesday, Talbott concocted the whole story. 'The so-called victim in the case confessed to the hoax last evening (21 March) to a member of the investigative team working the case,' read a news release by Denison Police Chief Jay Burch. 'Talbott's hoax was also insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax. The department will file a criminal case against her for false report to a peace officer, a class B misdemeanour' and will 'seek restitution for the significant costs for conducting such a major investigation,' Burch's statement continued. According to the Dallas News, all of Talbott's injuries were self-inflicted and, Burch added, 'it is our understanding that medical personnel who examined Talbott were unable to corroborate that Talbott had been sexually assaulted.' Talbott was very arrested and booked into the Grayson County Correctional Facility in Sherman.
About two weeks ago, a customer ordered a variety of items from Fresco's Fish and/or Chips which included two Diet Cokes, an order of deep fried pickles and three orders of mozzarella sticks. The customer, it would seem, felt it was necessary to explain why they wanted three orders of the mozzarella sticks according to this piece on the Inside Edition website. 'Yes — I meant to order three mozzarella sticks. Please don't judge me. I'm having a bad week and was so excited they were back on the menu,' the customer wrote. The restaurant told the website that they 'had a hiatus' on deliveries but, recently, resumed them in the city and put the mozzarella sticks back on the take-out menu, which prompted the customer to make the order.
A photo of the receipt has 'gone viral' after the owner's daughter posted it on Reddit. Which, frankly, is a bit of a shitty Copper's Nark-type thing to do but, hey, that's the way the world is these days. It 'has gained global attention' the website claims, with people from 'Ireland and Pakistan' calling Fresco's Fish and Chips to 'see how good the mozzarella sticks are.' Allegedly. Sounds like a load of made-up bollocks to this blogger who doubts anyone would make a very expensive international phone call for such a reason but, again, that's what it says on the Interweb and so, we are forced to believe it until evidence to the contrary emerges. 'People love deep fried cheese,' Brian, a cook at Fresco's, snitched to Inside Edition. 'We got through tons of mozzarella sticks a week.'
A mugshot showing a smiling schoolteacher who has been charged with 'having an improper relationship with a seventeen-year-old student' has also 'gone viral.' Which, yet again, says so much about the Interweb and the priorities of the people on it - this one very much included, admittedly. The school district suspended twenty six-year-old anatomy teacher Sarah Madden Fowlkes, who had been with Lockhart High School since 2014 according to the FOX 8 Cleveland website. A tip from a school administrator led authorities to the seventeen-year-old boy who had, allegedly, 'been in contact with Fowlkes' (no, that's not, seemingly, a euphemism for anything else) 'through messaging and in person.' Lockhart schools superintendent Susan Bohn e-mailed parents, notifying them of Fowlkes' arrest and suspension. 'Lockhart parents entrust their children to us every day and it is something we do not take lightly. Student safety is the district's most important priority,' Bohn said in a statement. 'As soon as we learned of the report, we acted swiftly to involve law enforcement and CPS to conduct a thorough investigation. The district does not and will not tolerate any improper communication or contact between a teacher and child.' If convicted Fowlkes could be a convicted felon and possibly need to register as a sex offender. Which would, presumably, wipe the smile off her boat.
A rare ingot of Roman lead that was unearthed on a farm has sold for twenty five grand. The inscribed lead bar is the only one known of its type to be found the UK, auctioneers have said. Found by Plymouth bricklayer Jason Baker, it failed to fetch its guide price of sixty thousand smackers in November. But, Hanson's Auction House in Derby confirmed that it had sold the two foot ingot, which dates from circa AD 164 and was uncovered near Wells in Somerset. The ingot, known as a pig, is thought to have been 'mislaid' by the Roman army who, at the time, would have been sending mined lead back to Rome. Baker, who had been detecting for eighteen months when he made the discovery, was unavailable for comment. Previously, he said: 'Normally, I find just a couple of Roman coins and that's normally a good day.' Baker had signed up for a weekly event with the Southern Detectorists' Club when he made the find. He said that there had been 'a frenzy of finds' so when his detector sounded he 'knew it was something good.' He added that he would be sharing the money from the sale with the landowner.
A teenager has contacted scientists at NASA to point out an error in a set of their own data. A-level student Miles Soloman found that radiation sensors on the International Space Station were 'recording false data.' The seventeen-year-old from Tapton school in Sheffield said that it was 'pretty cool' to e-mail the space agency. The correction was said to be 'appreciated' by NASA, which invited him to 'help analyse' the problem. 'What we got given was a lot of spreadsheets, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds,' Miles told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme. The research was part of the TimPix project from the Institute for Research in Schools, which gives students across the UK the chance to work on data from the space station, looking for anomalies and patterns that might lead to further discoveries. During astronaut Tim Peake's stay on the station, detectors began recording the radiation levels on the ISS. 'I went straight to the bottom of the list and I went for the lowest bits of energy there were,' Miles explained. Miles's teacher and head of physics, James O'Neill, said: 'We were all discussing the data but he just suddenly perked up in one of the sessions and went "why does it say there's -1 energy here?"' What Miles had noticed was that when nothing hit the detector, a negative reading was being recorded. But, you cannot get negative energy. So Miles and O'Neill contacted NASA forthwith and said 'oi, what's all this about, then?' 'It's pretty cool,' Miles said. 'You can tell your friends, I just e-mailed NASA and they're looking at the graphs that I've made.' It turned out that Miles had noticed something no-one else had - including the NASA experts. NASA said that it was 'aware' of the error - well, it is now that Miles has pointed it out - but believed it was only happening 'once or twice a year.' Miles had found it was actually happening multiple times a day. Professor Larry Pinksy, from the University of Houston, told Radio 4: 'My colleagues at NASA thought they had cleaned that up. This underscores - I think - one of the values of the IRIS projects in all fields with big data. I'm sure there are interesting things the students can find that professionals don't have time to do.' The professor - who works with NASA on radiation monitors - said that the correction was 'appreciated more so than it being embarrassing.' 'They obviously think I'm a nerd,' the sixth-former said concerning what his friends think of his NASA contacts. 'It's really a mixture of jealousy and boredom when I tell them all the details.' He added: 'I'm not trying to prove NASA wrong. I want to work with them and learn from them.' The director of IRIS, Professor Becky Parker, said this sort of 'expansion of real science in the classroom' could attract more young people to STEM subjects. She added: 'IRIS brings real scientific research into the hands of students no matter their background or the context of the school. The experience inspires them to become the next generation of scientists.'
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, has launched a forthright attack on the Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, for her disgraceful failure last year to defend judges who were branded 'enemies of the people' by the Daily Scum Mail. The most senior judge in England and Wales also lambasted Truss's department for 'putting out inaccurate information' last weekend about extending a scheme for pre-recording testimony from rape victims and told them to get their shit together, right sharpish. Officials at the Ministry of Justice 'misunderstood the whole thing completely,' Thomas said. He has now had to write to judges to 'explain that what the ministry had said was wrong.' Referring to the article fifty Brexit court case, he told the House of Lords constitution select committee that Truss was 'completely and utterly wrong' to say that she could not criticise the media. 'There's a difference between criticism and abuse,' Thomas said, 'and I don't think that's understood.' Last November, the Daily Scum Mail ran the headline Enemies Of The People when the high court, on which Thomas was sitting, found against the government, forcing ministers to obtain parliamentary backing before triggering Brexit. The Lord Chief Justice told peers: 'The circuit judges were very concerned. They wrote to the Lord Chancellor because litigants in person were coming and saying "you're an enemy of the people." I don't think it is understood either how absolutely essential it is that [the judges] are protected because we have to act as our oath requires us without fear or favour. It is the only time in the whole of my judicial career that I have had to ask for the police to give us a measure of advice and protection [for Gina Miller, the lead claimant in the Article Fifty case] in relation to the emotions that were being stirred up. And, I think that it is very wrong that judges should feel it. I have done a number of cases involving al-Qaida, I dealt with the airline bombers' plot, some very, very serious cases. And I have never had that problem before.' Thomas, who is due to step down in the autumn after four years in office, acknowledged that he was 'not mincing' his words. He said that he had been saving up his thoughts on judicial independence for a speech in parliament in June but Truss's comments last week, in which she urged judges to speak out about their work, and parliament's passing of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act, meant that he was now free to give his views. 'I regret to have to criticise her as severely as I have, but to my mind she was completely and absolutely wrong. And I am very disappointed,' he said. 'I can understand how the pressures were on in November, but she has taken a position that is constitutionally, absolutely wrong.' It was Truss's duty, as Lord Chancellor, to defend the judges, he said. Truss said that she 'supported freedom of the press' and 'did not feel' it was 'her role' to tell newspapers what they should put on their front pages. She told the same committee earlier this month: 'I think it is dangerous for a government minister to say, "this is an acceptable headline and this isn't an acceptable headline," because I am a huge believer in the independence of the judiciary. I am also a very strong believer in the free press.' A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: 'An independent judiciary is the cornerstone of the rule of law and it is the duty of the Lord Chancellor to defend that independence. The Lord Chancellor takes that duty very seriously. She has been very clear that she supports the independence of the judiciary, but that she also believes in a free press, where newspapers are free to publish, within the law, their views.' An alleged Downing Street 'source' allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'On the number of times this issue has been raised, Liz Truss has been very clear that she supports the independence of the judiciary. We have also been very clear that she is not going to tell newspapers what to write.' Extending the pre-recording of evidence from rape victims is intended to shield them from being freshly traumatised by their experience in court. Last weekend, the Ministry of Justice announced that a pilot scheme which had been operating at Kingston-upon-Thames, Leeds and Liverpool crown court and mainly involving child victims would be extended to the whole country and all adult victims of sex crimes. Thomas said: 'There was a complete failure to understand the impracticalities of any of this. The Ministry of Justice is under-resourced. They do not have enough people to understand.' The letter he sent out to senior judges said that he was 'very keen that you understand the position and that the misleading impression provided in the press reports is corrected.' Only the existing pilot programmes at Kingston, Leeds and Liverpool would be extended to include adult sex assault victims, Thomas said. They will have to be evaluated before they can be used in other courts, he added. The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said Truss had 'failed in her duty' and called on her to apologise to the House of Commons. Thomas - who is approaching seventy, the compulsory retirement age for judges - also highlighted a range of problems in the courts and justice system - including lack of funding, cuts to legal aid, low morale among the judiciary and problems with recruitment. The Lord Chief Justice said the volume of immigration cases going to the appeal court was becoming 'an extremely serious problem' because applicants 'know they get longer [in the UK] by appealing.' Many courts, he said, are in 'a dilapidated state,' adding that in Leeds courthouse, plaster is falling off the walls; in Winchester, the courthouse has buckets in the corridor to catch leaks from the roof. The judiciary would not lower its standards or compromise on quality in order to resolve its difficulties in finding more lawyers for the high court and crown court, Thomas insisted.
The cabin baggage ban on laptops and tablets on direct flights to the UK from six countries will be in place by Saturday, the government has confirmed. Passengers travelling from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia must put big electronic devices in the luggage hold. BA, Easyjet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomson and Thomas Cook flights are all affected. Transport Secretary and odious slapheed Chris Grayling said that the move was 'in response' to 'an evolving threat' from terrorism. He told the Commons that the government's decision was 'thought necessary' to 'protect the safety' of UK passengers, but he would not give any more detail. 'We have taken the steps for good reasons,' said Grayling before declining to reveal what those good reasons actually were. The ban applies to any device larger than sixteen centimetres long, 9.3 centimetres wide or 1.5 centimetres deep. It includes some smart phones, though most fall inside these limits. Under the new rules, all large electronic devices, including Kindles and similar e-readers, must be packed into luggage going into the hold. Grayling told MPs that he would write to insurers to ask them to 'be mindful' of the changes. The new security measures would be brought in 'over the coming days and no later than Saturday 25 March,' said a Department for Transport spokeswoman. She added that passengers 'should go to the airport with the expectation that the measures are already in effect.' So far, only Easyjet has confirmed that the restrictions are already in place. Overseas airlines affected are Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia. The ban follows a similar move in the US, where officials say bombs 'could be hidden' in a series of devices.
Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse novels, has died at the age of eighty six. His publisher said in a statement on Tuesday: 'With immense sadness, MacMillan announces the death of Colin Dexter who died peacefully at his home in Oxford this morning.' Though he thought of himself primarily as a school teacher, Colin Dexter will be remembered as the crime writer who created the curmudgeonly but entertaining Endeavour Morse, the beer, crossword and Wagner-loving detective who drove a vintage Jaguar around Oxford, solved murders by deep thinking, often about chance remarks made by his sidekick, Sergeant Lewis. Dexter claimed that he was no writer, but could revise his 'bad starts' into 'something that worked.' The formula was certainly a success for some dozen Morse novels and many original scripts for television, the medium which delivered the doings of the idiosyncratic Morse to a massive audience across fifty countries. 'I just started writing and forced myself to keep going,' he once said. 'And, it's been the same ever since.' Intellectually rather like his creation, Dexter was a master of the literary high wire. Morse's first name was kept under wraps for years, always presenting audiences with a riddle to be solved – a riddle almost as interesting as the one about why Morse, though presented as constantly falling in love with women, never actually married one. Only gradually was it leaked out that his first name began with an E. But the secret about his first name – in real life it would have appeared on documents easily accessible at the police station – was not dispelled until 1996, when there was a landslide of useful publicity about the disclosure that the name was not Edward or Ernest, as some pundits had speculated, but rather Endeavour – because Morse's mother had been a Quaker who greatly admired Captain Cook, whose ship bore that name. In fact, Dexter used to walk along the bank of the River Thames at Oxford, opposite to the boathouse belonging to Twenty Second Oxford Sea Scout Group; the building was named TS Endeavour. Dexter happily went along with publicity strategies to boost Morse because he felt he owed a debt of gratitude to his publishers. But, like Morse, he hated cant and pretentiousness. He made millions out of Morse but lived in the same four-bedroomed home in Oxford that he had occupied since moving to the city in 1966. He was neither impressed by displays of wealth nor anxious to live up to his income, his main sybaritic expenditure being on red wine, flowers, beer, whisky and his car. The last of these was as elderly as Morse's, but of a lesser make. The one extravagance to which Colin would admit was his purchase of the first editions of the works of AE Housman. He had planned to write a biography of Housman when he finished with his detective, but found by that time that other writers had cornered the market. Dexter was born in Stamford, Lincolnshire. His father, Alfred, was a taxi driver who had left school at twelve, as had Colin's mother, Dorothy. Both were determined that Colin and his elder brother, John, should be well educated. The boys were not required to do any domestic chores but were expected to spend every available moment studying. Both gained scholarships to the independent Stamford School and Colin - after completing his national service with the Royal Corps of Signals - then went to Christ's College, Cambridge, where he studied classics, graduating in 1953 and receiving a master's degree in 1958. He became a classics teacher, claiming for the rest of his life that he was 'a born teacher' rather than a writer: he took no interest in the moral welfare of his pupils but prided himself on getting them better exam results than they thought they were capable of. He taught at schools in Loughborough and Leicester, and by his mid-thirties was head of classics at a school in Corby. It was there that he discovered there was 'something seriously wrong' with his hearing. He was teaching The Aeneid, Book II, when he began to feel that there was something going on that he knew nothing about. In fact, pupils in the fifth form were playing pop music during his lessons at ever increasing volume, but he could not hear it. His family history might have warned him of approaching danger: all four of his grandparents, an uncle and his father became deaf. This had the effect of making him seek a second career in which impaired hearing would not be a disadvantage. So he became a GCE examiner for the Oxford University Board. It required him to move to Oxford and he remained there from 1966 until 1987, by which time Morse had changed his life. His series of Morse novels, written between 1975 and 1999, were adapted for the long-running ITV series, starring John Thaw. Dexter's characters also featured in spin-off shows Lewis and Endeavour. The first of the novels, Last Bus To Woodstock (1975), was written because, with his wife, Dorothy and their children, Dexter was on holiday in North Wales at a time when the rain never seemed to stop. Thoroughly miserable and bored, he read both the detective novels in their holiday accommodation, decided that they were 'not much good' and thought he could do better himself. With the benefit of medieval and suburban Oxford as the setting (Dexter reckoned that he would never have become a writer had he moved to, for example, Rotherham), Last Bus To Woodstock proved the point. The names for the characters were chosen with the same liking for intellectual riddles as the plot. He chose the name for Morse, and for all the others in the novel, except for the murderer, from a crossword, at a time when he entered regularly for the Observer Ximenes puzzle, which was won more often than not by one Sir Jeremy Morse and, occasionally, by a Mrs B Lewis. In November 2008 Dexter featured prominently in the BBC programme How To Solve A Cryptic Crossword as part of the Time Shift series, in which he recounted some of the crossword clues solved by Morse. Once it was obvious that he had found a winning character and setting, the irascible detective whose penchants for cryptic crosswords, English literature, cask ale and Wagner reflect Dexter's own enthusiasms. His plots used false leads and other red herrings, Dexter seriously set about writing detective novels. There were twelve more in the Morse series, including Service Of All The Dead (1979), for which he won the Silver Dagger award of the Crime Writers' Association, The Dead Of Jericho (1981), another Silver Dagger-winner, the atypical The Wench Is Dead (1989), for which he won the Gold Dagger, The Way Through The Woods (1992), another Gold Dagger-winner and the last, The Remorseful Day (1999), which killed off Morse, as well as a short-story collection, Morse's Greatest Mystery (1993). Dexter would often include literary quotations in his novels from the - entirely fictitious - author and historian Diogenes Small (1797–1805). The first of thirty three episodes of the Inspector Morse television series was presented in 1987, with John Thaw and Kevin Whately as Lewis. Dexter himself appeared in various Hitchcock-like cameos in each episode. When the novels ran out, Dexter wrote additional scripts before turning over the series to other writers. The last episode, in 2000, featured Morse's death and after Thaw's own death in 2002, Dexter stipulated that no other actor should reprise the role. (The character had, previously, been played on radio by Andrew Burt in a 1985 BBC adaptation of Last Bus To Woodstock. In the 1990s, an occasional BBC Radio 4 series for The Saturday Play was made starring the voices of John Shrapnel as Morse and Robert Glenister as Lewis. An Inspector Morse stage play appeared in 2010, written by Alma Cullen - author of four Morse screenplays for ITV. The part of Morse was played by Colin Baker.) However, the story continued in a spin-off series, Lewis (2006 to 2015) and a prequel series, Endeavour, with Shaun Evans as the young Morse, which began in 2012 on both of which Dexter acted as consultant. And, as with Inspector Morse, Dexter would occasionally make cameo appearances in Lewis and Endeavour. One notable difference between the Robbie Lewis from the novels and Kevin Whately's award-winning portrayal is that Lewis in the novels is an older man with a Welsh background in his early sixties. When Whately auditioned for the role and then learned this, he considered it unlikely that he would get the part. However, Dexter stated that the younger Lewis was a major improvement on the character he originally created and that if he could start the novels afresh he would begin with Lewis as he is seen in the television adaptations. Dexter was often asked whether he wrote for a readership or for himself. His answer was that he wrote for his old English teacher Mister Sharp. He would write a page and then ask himself, 'Would Mister Sharp like that?' His aim was to feel that Sharp would give it at least eight out of ten. Maria Rejt, Dexter's most recent editor at MacMillan, said that the author had 'inspired all those who worked with him. His loyalty, modesty and self-deprecating humour gave joy to many. His was the sharpest mind and the biggest heart, and his wonderful novels and stories will remain a testament to both,' she said. Dexter was appointed an OBE in 2000. He is survived by Dorothy, whom he married in 1956, their children Jeremy and Sally, and two grandsons, Thomas and James.

2 comments:

Mark said...

The Eden thing is a bit of a non story isn't it? I was one of the three men and their dog left watching it's initial run (God knows why!) and the series concluded with 'returning in 2017' so it was always the plan to break the record of their year in the wild down into mini-serial instalments, much like the BBC did with Castaway, which Eden was very much a rip off of. So given they set their stall out highlighting their intentions, you're right that it seems a bit unfair of these sneery journos to try and make a story out of it not being on TV as yet. It's not even like you can claim Channel 4 have forgotten about the show, as the first run is available as a routinely advertised boxset on 4OD.

I feel sorry for the poor buggers, coming home to a world of Brexit, Trump and the inexplicable continuing employment of David Walliams.

That tweet to Rooney is hilarious!

Anthony Brown said...

The Morse play was on R4 today, with Neil Pearson as Morse (or really a rather irritated Tony Clark). Pointless sign isn't totally pointless: holds the two posts in place in case they need to fit an actual sign again.