We don’t just report off-beat news, breaking news and digest the best and worst of the news media analysis and commentary. We give an original take on what happened and why. We add lols, satire, news photos and original content.
IN her Times column, Caitlin Moran highlights BBC Radio 4 Today host John Humphry’s interrogation of Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of Centrica, the biggest of the six leading British energy companies. Humphreys turned to discuss raising fuel bills.
Laidlaw seemed to suggest that the major companies found it difficult to effect change in the market, causing Humphrys to exclaim: “You have 97 per cent of the market, you … big six.”
Moran notes that “You . . . big six,” is now a diss, up there with “Your mum”.
I’d like to draw your attention to former BBC news reporter Kate Kate Adie discussing Co-op Bank’s ex-CEO Euan Sutherland on New Zealand national radio.
Listen closely at around the 4mins 25s marks. What’s that she says of Sutherland? He’s a what..?
Seedy 1970s TV: Petula Clark And The Scorpio People, Starring Jimmy Savile And Diana Dors’ Swimming Pool
IT’S hard to explain how peculiar TV was in the 1970s. Better to show you kids what the olds had to watch.
On November 16, 1974, Petula Clarke starred in The Sound of Petula. . .The Tale of a Scorpio, Petula sang about people born under the Scorpio star sign.
ONCE upon a time, we had the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles on British TV because on these shores, everyone is far too chicken to use the word ‘ninja’. Mercifully, times have changed and now, we’re all set for a brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.
And the new trailer for it has been released.
Of course, there’s only one man childish enough to have fun make a TMNT film, and that’s Michael Bay, who also rummaged through the toybox in his mind to direct the Transformers films.
So how are Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Leonardo looking?
THERE’S an old saying that goes: “if you’re going to take a shot at the king, make sure you don’t miss.”
Such words of wisdom also apply to the movie monsters of the 1980s.
Thirty years ago, in 1984, Wes Craven’s “bastard son of a hundred maniacs,” Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) rose up to become the reigning king of the horror film with the theatrical release of A Nightmare on Elm Street. The Gloved One took New Line — “The House That Freddy Built” — straight to the top with him.
MEET 18-year-old Stian Ytterdahl of Lørenskog, Sweden. He’s got a tattoo on his arm of the entire McDonald’s menu.
IN “Strike forces parents to find emergency child care”, ITV’s Simon Harris, has news of the teachers’ strike. He speaks with a victim of those striking teachers:
Tens of thousands of parents were forced to adopt emergency child care plans today as the teachers’ strike hit schools in London and the Home Counties. Some parents were forced to book a day’s holiday from work, some relied on the trusted fallback of grandparents while others ended up with a bill from a professional childminder.
One who paid the price for teachers exercising their right to demonstrate for better working conditions was Fiona Jull. She’s “the director of a public relations company who lives in Wimbledon”. And she paid £75 for a childminder to care for Max, her 5-year-old miniature schnauzer (oh, come on, Max is a dog’s name, right?).
ARE you aware of the ITV2 series, The Big Reunion? Thus far, the show has brought Blue, Atomic Kitten, Liberty X and more, back together.
Now, voice of the show – Andi Peters – has said he wants to do a Britpop version. Just imagine. All those 30somethings fishing out their velvet blazers and flared cords out of the bedding box!
“I think there’s a Britpop version to be made,” Peters told Digital Spy. “There’s all those Britpop bands of the same era as the bands on this series. Of course, the adoration wasn’t the same. People didn’t adore them in the same way as they adored pop bands. But, oh my God, they’d have loads of stories.”
THIS is perhaps a bit unkind of the IRS over in the US, issuing new tax guidance about Bitcoin in late March when everyone has to have their tax returns in by April 15th. But that’s what they’ve done and the ruling isn’t a surprise to anyone except those with the most absurd ideas of what Bitcoin actually is:
Twenty days: that’s how long American virtual currency users have to comply with newly released tax guidelines if they want to meet the April 15 filing deadline. The IRS today released an official statement declaring that virtual currencies – including, but not limited to bitcoin – will be treated as property.
In short, this means that bitcoin will be treated the same way shares of stock, real estate assets, and other investments and will be subject to capital gains taxes.
DIANA Dors is in the news. When the tittering had died down in court, Max Clifford told the jury in his sex crimes trial that he attended “sex parties” hosted by the actress Diana Dors. Mr Clifford denies 11 counts of indecent assault against seven women and girls.
Dors was one of the country’s biggest stars. Dors was billed as Britain’s Marilyn Monroe.
Her real name was Diana Fluck – but her mother said she should change it because there was always the chance that her name would be up in lights outside a cinema – and one of the letters might fall off.
And she had hosted sex parties at her Orchard Manor home in Sunningdale, Berkshire.
* It really is terrifying how gullible and naïve I was and still am,” she confessed to author Clive Hirschhorn in 1968. “I fell for hard-luck stories the way boys fall for girls. To make things worse I surrounded myself with gangsters, conmen and phoneys!”
She had a turbulent love life.
Rob Baker takes up the story.
She married her first husband, Dennis Hamilton, at 4.pm 3rd July 1951 at Caxton Hall registry office in Westminster. She was just nineteen and already a film star. Her parents, not over-enamoured with the proposed union, decided not to come, and Diana, who was still under the, then, legal age of 21, had to forge their signatures on the form that gave permission for their daughter to be married.
The Caxton Hall wedding between Diana Dors and Dennis Hamilton wasn’t the smoothest of affairs. Before the ceremony the couple had posed for pictures outside (Hamilton had tipped off the press) but eventually the registrar tapped Hamilton on the shoulder and asked for a quiet word. The official discretely told him that he had received an anonymous phone call with the information that the marriage application had been forged.
Hamilton, furious, grabbed the registrar by the throat and shouted: “You’ll marry us, all right, or I’ll knock your fu*king teeth down your throat.”
They had met just five weeks previously after Dennis had chatted Diana up when asking her for a light. She was instantly charmed. Although Diana already had a boyfriend, a man of dubious morals named Michael Caborn-Waterfield, Hamilton sent her flowers almost daily. Unfortunately, Michael went to prison for a fortnight after one too many shady business deals and Dennis pounced. He proposed to Diana at the end of June 1951 and they became Mr and Mrs Hamilton just four days later.
Dors was in the middle of working on a film called Godiva Rides Again [see photo above] so there was no honeymoon after the wedding, just a meal in Olivelli’s in Store Street. The guests all paid for their own meals.
“There would have been parties from my younger days when I was friends with Diana Dors because Diana had parties. hey were not orgies. Not everyone went there and took their clothes off.”
The sex parties became a feature of her life from her first marriage.
By the time of her wedding she had already been a contract girl for J Arthur Rank for five years and had made some fifteen films including a role in David Lean’s Oliver Twist.
She was certainly not untalented but had always struggled to find real noteworthy roles and a rather turbulent private life certainly didn’t help her cause. She had been renting a small flat off the Kings Road from 1949 for six guineas a week but was eventually thrown out after complaints from the neighbours for the endless parties, late nights and loud music. The nights must have been very late and the music very loud because she wrote in her first autobiography in 1960:
“I didn’t realise it but the cute flat was slap dab in the middle of one of the worst areas I could have established myself in, for Chelsea in those days, just after the war, was much wilder than it is today.”
In 1950, while seeing Caborn-Waterfield, she also had a traumatic illegal abortion, performed on a kitchen table in Battersea, for ten quid.
The ‘interesting’ private life didn’t disappear now that she was married to Hamilton. Not long after their wedding he introduced her to, what were basically, sex parties.
Just a few months after Diana and Dennis’s wedding, Bob Monkhouse, then a 24 year old up-and-coming script writer, was invited to one of their parties. The lights were very low when he got there with almost the only lumination coming from a 16mm projector showing hard core porn (stag films or blue movies as they were known then) and there was a faint smell of Amyl Nitrate in the air.
Monkhouse was quickly invited to bed by a very attractive and comely young dancer. It was a little too quickly and he soon realised that something wasn’t quite right. After his eyes adjusted to the darkness he saw that there was a false mirror on the ceiling and the other party guests were watching behind it. Furious, he stormed out of the room, with the ‘dancer’ shouting, “I think he’s a homo”. He was met by Dors in the hallway who said:
“Some people absolutely adore putting on a show, they come back to my parties just to do that.”
The following year Monkhouse and Dors met again at a Sunday evening radio show and they had a brief affair. Diana lied that her husband was in New York to lower Monkhouse’s guard. Eventually Hamilton found out about the affair and threatened Monkhouse with a cut-throat razor screaming at his face:
“I’m going to slit your eyeballs!”
Monkhouse only escaped by kneeing Hamilton in the groin and running away, but he once wrote that he had spent the next six years continually looking over his shoulder. He only had to worry for six years because in 1959 Dennis Hamilton suddenly died. His death was initially blamed on a heart attack but the day after the funeral Dors found out that he had died of tertiary syphilis. It never came to light, despite many autobiographies, whether she had contracted the disease herself.
Her career floundered:
Diana Dors made one acclaimed film in the fifties called Yield To The Night – a movie that was loosely based on the Ruth Ellis story but it’s not entirely unfair to say that she starred in some of the worst films ever made. After an unsuccessful foray to Hollywood (a public affair with Rod Steiger and and an incident where Hamilton beat up a photographer unconscious didn’t help), her film career, despite the very early promise, never really took off.
Dors would later complain that while Marilyn Monroe was making How To Marry A Millionaire in Hollywood, she was up in Manchester making It’s A Grand Life with the alcoholic northern comedian Frank Randle. Diana Dors was always a household name but it was her television guest appearances and roles in saucy sex comedies such as The Adventures of a Taxi Driver and Swedish Wildcats, that eventually kept her in the public eye.
She became the diet guru on GMTV in 1983 – where apparently she would weigh herself with all her heavy gold jewellery so it would look like she lost weight the following week. She died of protracted cancer the following year in 1984.
Her son Jason Lake would recall:
“My Dad [Alan Lake] used to get drunk with Richard Harris and Oliver Reed. I’d come back from school and they’d all still be in the living room talking rubbish with the room smelling of cigarettes and alcohol. Lionel Bart had a cocaine habit, so he’d get trashed. I remember him coming out of the loo with cocaine all down his sleeve and Oliver Reed and Dad having sword fights on the lawn.”
* “There were no taboos in our house. I was only seven but I was free to wander in and out of my mum’s parties, no matter how hot they got. I would walk around in my pajamas chatting to John Lennon and Keith Moon. Mum would wander around serving cups of tea and trying to get people up into the bedrooms. She loved having friends round to watch the porn films made at the parties. They would sit around giggling as couples groped each other and made love on the bed. Most of them didn’t even know they had been filmed.”
Lake and Dors acted together.
At home, sex was a commodity:
“It was a more up-to-date version of the two-way mirror. Some of the girls were wise to it. Mum just said: ‘This is what happens’, and I thought it was completely normal.’ Diana got her kicks by watching others having sex and procuring young women for famous men.
* Dors… admitted in a series of newspaper interviews to hosting sex parties at her home in Berkshire attended by celebrities including Bob Monkhouse. Guests would be encouraged to have sex with aspiring young actresses and Dors’s son Jason Lake alleged that the bedrooms were rigged with 8mm movie cameras and that his mother would enjoy watching the films later.
Naturally, she knew The Krays.
We’ve nothing to add about Maxwell’s trial, other than that he maintains his innocence.
The man who made a fortune with selling kiss ‘n’ tells about the great and good to the newspapers may take some of the stories he knows to his grave.
Adam Curtis has a nice aside about how Dors was tabloid gold:
The News of the World was in trouble – it’s circulation was falling. Part of the problem was television, but also its tradition of titillating court reports – randy vicars caught with their trousers down – was feeling tired and out of date. So early in 1960 Sir William Emsley Carr, the alcoholic proprietor of the News of the World appointed a new editor called Stafford Somerfield.
On his first day as editor, Somerfield called his staff together and – as he described it – “pushed the boat out”.
“What the hell are we going to do about the circulation? It’s going down the drain. We want a series of articles that will make their hair curl.”
In a brilliant book about the British Press, the writer Roy Greenslade describes what Somerfield introduced – “two new forms of provocative content: kiss-and-tell memoirs and saucy investigations”
And right away he found the perfect combination of these in Diana Dors.
Somerfield persuaded her to tell the intimate secrets of her life in a series of articles for the News of the World. He had been fascinated by the Yeardye – Hamilton guns and sex drama and was convinced there was far more to be mined from her life. To get the story he paid Diana Dors £35,000 which was an extraordinary amount for that time.
But he got what he wanted. He sat Dors down with a journalist who recorded everything – and then, as Dors later plaintively complained, took “all the mucky bits” and wrote the story of a scandalous, violent and seedy life.
IT shouldn’t be a big deal when a familiar actor or actress is abruptly replaced on a TV show. Yet audiences are often unable to cope. I suppose it’s due to the fact that a subconscious connection is often developed between audience and actors. When, suddenly, an interloper appears in his or her place, all hell breaks loose.
The textbook example is Darrin from Bewitched: when Dick York was replaced by Dick Sargent audiences were left confused and disoriented. What happened to Samantha’s husband? Did she remarry, or did she magically transform his physical appearance? What in the name of all that is holy is going on?!?
The problem is compounded when the original character was particularly beloved. Audiences got used to the “New Darrin”, but sometimes the shoes are just too hard to fill. Here are a few examples of when replacements had a particularly tough time filling in. Television audiences are an unforgiving lot.
Jenilee Harrison (as Cyndi Snow) replaces Suzanne Somers (as Chrissy Snow)
Somers, in a mad grab for cash, demanded more money and the network execs dropped her like a bad habit. The very nature of the show demanded that there be a third roommate. Enter Jenilee Harrison, a Los Angeles Rams cheerleader with no acting experience. Not surprisingly, it was nothing short of an abject failure. The following season, Jenilee was let go, and Priscilla Barnes (as Terri Alden) took over for the final seasons (1981-1984). Priscilla succeeded where Jenilee could not primarily because she didn’t play a similarly imbecilic character, but had a good head on her shoulders. However, nothing ever captured the magic of Suzanne Somers – “jiggle TV” at its finest.
Linda Thorson (as Tara King) replaces Diana Rigg (as Emma Peel)
In season six of The Avengers, Linda Thorson replaced Diana Rigg (a replacement herself). It would prove to be the show’s last season. American audiences didn’t seem to care, and French audiences actually preferred the replacement; however, British viewers would have no part of the change. Linda was roundly thrashed by the press as being a poor substitute – all looks and no brains, a damsel in distress rather than a strong heroine.
Some of the criticism was well-founded – Linda was very inexperienced as an actress and she got the part because she was the girlfriend of then-producer John Bryce. However, I think it’s clear the criticism was pretty unfair. Linda did a respectable job, and the show was already slipping before her arrival. I’m not sure who could’ve replaced Rigg and saved it. The show failed because it became dependent on US audiences, and it was lined up against Laugh-In (a show which also killed Star Trek).
Finally, it should be noted that Season 6 was actually an IMPROVEMENT over the previous season. Few will argue that Rigg’s last season was lame – it was becoming a spoof like Batman. In the final season, things started to get back to being serious.
Cheryl Ladd (as Kris Munroe) replaces Farrah Fawcett (as Jill Munroe)
It’s hard to comprehend what a phenomenon Farrah had become after her single season on Charlie’s Angles. Her shoes were impossible to fill, and it’s a testament to the likeability of Cheryl Ladd that the show survived. Far from being mortally wounded, the show strolled along for four more seasons…. but it just wasn’t the same. Even though Farrah was only there for the first season, when you think of Charlie’s Angels, you think of the Farrah year.
Certainly, there were other shows which lost a star but kept on truckin’: Welcome Back, Kotter lost Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta), Alice lost Flo (Polly Holliday), M*A*S*H lost Trapper John (Wayne Rogers) and Lt. Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stephenson), etc. However, those were shows that lost actors and actresses. Charlie’s Angels was a show that lost an icon.
CHICO AND THE MAN
Gabriel Melgar (as Raul) replaces Freddie Prinze (as Chico Rodriguez)
I will go on record and say that Freddie Prinze is among the top five stand-up comedians of all time. You’re certainly free to disagree, but there was just something truly special about his presence on stage. None of the jaded, cynical, self-deprecating stuff we come to expect from today’s comics. His was pure optimism and energy… which makes his 1977 suicide all the more unfathomable.
One thing I think we can all agree on is that Chico & the Man should have ended with Prinze’s death. The very notion that they would try and keep the sitcom rolling blows the mind. Poor Gabriel Melgar, recruited to fill the void, simply never had a chance. It was an awful idea that ended with predictable results – abysmal ratings and cancellation.
THE DUKES OF HAZZARD
Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer (as Coy and Vance) temporarily replace Tom Wopat and John Schneider (as Bo and Luke Duke)
Dukes of Hazzard audiences tuned in to the new 1982 season only to find their beloved Bo and Luke Duke replaced by obvious clones. Schneider and Wopat had refused to come to the set, demanding more money. In response, the network replaced them with two guys that looked suspiciously similar. Audiences didn’t fall for the ploy, and so Schneider and Wopat got the contracts they wanted and returned.
In the end, the series wasn’t significantly impacted by this bizarre interlude. However, when it was all over, viewers were left scratching their head, wondering what the hell just happened.
LETTER of the day is in the Times. It concerns Dylan Thomas and the Royal Mail’s new stamps calling him a “Barrd ac awdur” (poet an author).
The stamp has been designed by Purpose as part of a set of stamps for the Royal Mail celebrating Britons with ‘Remarkable Lives’.
THIS really ought to take some sort of a prize for the amount of cluelessness it shows about our fellow humans. Yes, of course we’re ruthless, greedy and destructive swine, what the hell else did anyone ever think we were?
You want to know who we are? Really? You think you do, but you will regret it. This article, if you have any love for the world, will inject you with a venom – a soul-scraping sadness – without an obvious antidote.
The Anthropocene, now a popular term among scientists, is the epoch in which we live: one dominated by human impacts on the living world. Most date it from the beginning of the industrial revolution. But it might have begun much earlier, with a killing spree that commenced two million years ago. What rose onto its hind legs on the African savannahs was, from the outset, death: the destroyer of worlds.
Before Homo erectus, perhaps our first recognisably human ancestor, emerged in Africa, the continent abounded with monsters. There were several species of elephants. There were sabretooths and false sabretooths, giant hyenas and creatures like those released in The Hunger Games: amphicyonids, or bear dogs, vast predators with an enormous bite.
And Monbiot goes on to point out that where ever humans ended up we killed off the megafauna in that location pretty quickly.
SURPRISINGLY, Damon Albarn used to be a smackhead. You’d never have guessed would you? More than that, he said that heroin “completely changed” him as a musician and he’s written about being on the brown in a new song on his ‘Everyday Robots’ LP.
“In those… lines I said everything about it that I wanted to. You know, ‘My ship across…’ it has some poetry to it. I’m happy I found that poetry. I can move forward not without all the nudge nudge, wink wink innuendo I’ve had in the background for years. It was a long time ago,” he said.
He’s now off the smack though, which is a relief.
LOCAL news Watch spots the Nottingham Evening Post exacting a delicious revenge on Billy Davies.
Until yesterday, Davies was manager of Nottingham Forest FC. During his tenure, the Post was banned from attending press conferences. So. Here’s how the Post has covered Davies’ departure:
Who says local newspapers are irrelevant?
COLIN Farmer was 63 when he was handcuffed by police October 12, 2012. He is partially sighted. He carries a white stick.
But one copper, a PC Stuart Wright, thought that white stick looked like a samurai sword. PC Wright is not partially sighted. But he might be mentally negligible.
Mr Farmer “posed no threat” as he walked to the pub in Chorley, in Lancashire.
But police has been called. A passer-by had mistakenly thought Mr Farmer was carrying a weapon.
Soon, PC Wright arrived. He saw Mr Farmer. He shot his taser at Mr Farmer.
As his victim lay prone on the ground, the copper told a colleague, who had arrived later: “I think I’ve got the wrong person.”
MADELEINE McCann: Anorak’s look at the missing child in the news. Today the Daily Mirror has a front-page scoop:
“BRIT PAEDO WAS LIVING NEXT DOOR TO MADDIE RESORT”
Go on, Tom Pettifor:
Mirror investigation reveals that sicko David Reid was hiding in the Algarve at the time Madeleine McCann was taken from Praia da Luz
ANY clue who these guys are? They’re the band Supertramp. If you didn’t know, it’s either because you are way too young to appreciate this article or it’s due to the fact that almost all Seventies rock acts looked relatively similar – like a generic group of hairy drug addicts.
Plus, it became “a thing” for Seventies rockers to shun the spotlight. Whereas, for most of the 1960s it was just a given that your album cover would feature a photograph of the band, in the 1970s, something changed…
IN Ancient Rome, the poet Juvenal coined the term “bread and circuses” (panem et circenses), and to his credit, it is one that remains pertinent to this day, especially in our 21st century pop culture and entertainment.
Specifically, the idea of “bread and circuses” involves an artificial means by which the government or ruling class of a nation distracts or appeases “the common man.” In Rome, for example gladiatorial games in the Colosseum fit the bill, distracting and diverting people from significant issues such as poverty, war, and corruption.
Forget Google Glass, Android Wear, Smartwatches or contact lenses that give you night vision. Instead let’s talk about the awesomeness that is this 17th century Chinese abacus ring. It’s wearable tech from the Qing Dynasty, perhaps the world’s oldest smart ring.
Measuring a mere 1.2 centimeter-long by 0.7 centimeter-wide, the miniature abacus is a fully functional counting tool, but it’s so tiny that using it requires an equally dainty tool, such as a pin, to manipulate the beads, which are each less than one millimeter long.
“However, this is no problem for this abacus’s primary user—the ancient Chinese lady, for she only needs to pick one from her many hairpins.”
Spotter: Endless Geyser of Awesome