Western Sydney and rural NSW benefit from arts funding shake-up

Arts organisations and festivals in western Sydney and rural NSW are the major beneficiaries of the biggest shake-up to arts funding in more than a decade.

The new funding model, consolidating 14 funding categories into two annual open rounds for organisation and project funding, appears to have come at the relative expense of inner-city arts bodies and individual artists and performers.

Arts minister Don Harwin said individual practitioners, however, would likely have greater opportunities in a second funding round opening in February when there was not the same urgency for arts organisations to determine budgets for upcoming shows, exhibitions and workshops.

The all singing, all dancing Hayes Theatre.Credit:Lightbox Photography

"We set out to make the process simpler and provide stability and certainty to more organisations and that's what has been achieved," Mr Harwin said.

Sydney Fringe Festival ($130,000), Hayes Theatre ($90,000) and the Omega Ensemble ($100,000), which tours chamber music to NSW and Victoria, are among organisations to have received annual funding for the first time.

Hayes' general manager, Will Harvey, said he had been worried the theatre might have to go into deficit to fund its resource-intensive creative development program for 2020 before news of its funding success came through.

Two new Australian musicals are in the works, seeded and scored from scratch: The Sovereign Wife, written and directed by Griffin Theatre's Declan Greene, and Dubbo Championship Wrestling.

For the first time in Fringe's ten year history the festival could adequately resource its team and subsidise performance space for emerging artists, festival director Kerri Glasscock said.

"Servicing the needs of those artists, providing them with affordable space and activating pop-up venues to accommodate the program is vital. Over 80 per cent of our 2500 artists identify as emerging or early career and Fringe provides an important pathway for local artists to develop their careers and tell new Sydney stories," she said.

In August the government also appointed 82 arts leaders to 10 powerful boards across theatre, opera, music, museums, visual arts and dance,  to replace five-member, peer-reviewed panels that previously judged the merits of funding applications.

Of $7.2 million announced yesterday, $2.7 million went to regional NSW and $1.4 million to western Sydney.

Parramatta-based WestWords received $210,000, same as in two previous years, to deliver writing and literacy programs in western Sydney.

Pinchgut Opera received $175,000 to stage its season of Baroque operatic masterpieces and Four Winds was awarded $200,000 to produce two festivals and a music education program on the far south coast.

Of the 65 arts groups whose annual activities have been supported, one-third were funded for the first time. Funding for these arts bodies totalled $4.8 million – up 20 per cent on 2018/19, the minister said.

In the project category 30 individual artists had been funded representing $600,000 of $2.1 million allocated.

Ms Glasscock, who sat on the festival board in judgement of applications, said all conflicts of interest on the artform boards had been dealt with transparently. No board member saw or assessed any application that they had a direct or perceived conflict of interest within the initial assessment phase, she said.

"Once we convened for discussions board members who had a conflict with any application that was being considered left the room when that application and any applications sitting alongside theirs were discussed."

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This Is How 'Star Wars' Writers Pulled Off 'The Empire Strikes Back' Twist

Star Wars began a long time ago… well, actually back in 1977, so not that long ago. But still, it’s been around for 42 years and isn’t stopping. Even though The Rise of Skywalker is the final installment in the Skywalker saga, there’s plenty more on the horizon. But looking back at the series of films, there isn’t a moment quite like Vader’s in Empire Strikes BackWhile Luke’s father’s reveal is well-known and quoted now, it was the surprise of the decade and the saga. Going into Episode IX, how did they pull that off?

The writers didn’t plan the reveal until after ‘A New Hope’

As stated above, the reveal was a massive surprise when the movie came out in 1980. Entertainment Weekly reported that when A New Hope came out in ‘77, George Lucas hadn’t come up with Darth Vader as Luke’s father yet. But when he told screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan about it when writing Episode V, it was essential to do a proper lead up to it in Empire Strikes Back.

“All this energy and all this storytelling that proceeded it was aimed at this tiny spot,” Kasdan said. “It’s like if you were trying to get to Mars and you were one degree off, you wouldn’t get there… How do we get there at the perfect time, the perfect place, and have it just absolutely blow people’s minds?”

He said the movie itself was massive by this point. So they had to figure out how to deliver this blow while keeping it a secret.

Not even Mark Hamill got “I am your father” it in his script

Kasdan said that they gave the cast dummy scripts, even Mark Hamill, who is, of course, paramount to that scene. Hamill thought the surprise was going to be that Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) was going to be the villain, which he also thought was great and “didn’t see that coming.”

Hamill said they pulled him aside right before they shot the pivotal scene where Vader delivers “I am your father” as his hand is cut off. “[Director Irvin Kershner] pulled me aside and, and said, ‘Look, I’m going to tell you something, and I know it and George knows it, so if it leaks, we’ll know it was you,” Hamill said. “We’re going to dub in [the line] I am your father.’ I thought, ‘Oh my God, I was as shocked as the audience would later be. This is so primal, nothing could top Darth Vader being your father.”

Darth Vader’s reveal is partly what made ‘Empire Strikes Back’ everyone’s favorite 

Empire Strikes Back is known to be many people’s favorite movies in the Star Wars franchise, even today, after nearly eleven films. It’s partly for the storytelling and the drama of it all, but Kasdan also said it’s because of this very scene. 

“It blew people’s minds,” he says. “I have never gone to a screening of the movie where people weren’t shocked, where they didn’t gasp. I would say that was the most successful secret ever kept in movies. People were amazing about not telling other people.” Even Harrison Ford gave Hamill a hard time for keeping it from him. 

Whether you remember it as “Luke, I am your father,” or the correct, “No, I am your father,” this scene is the epitome of what makes Star Wars so popular. Space, drama, mystical powers, and a possible dark dad around every corner.

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How to cook 200,000 canapés in a few hours!

Thought your prep was stressful? Gregg Wallace discovers how to cook 200,000 canapés in a few hours!

  • BBC2’s special of Inside The Factory reveals how factories prepare party food 
  • Gregg Wallace visits Marks & Spencer’s supplier, Riverside Bakery in Nottingham
  • They produce nearly 200,000 canapes every 24 hours, with just 600 employees 

Vol-au-vents bursting with creamy salmon, mini-quiches packed with smoky bacon and mature cheese… Christmas just isn’t Christmas without delicious party food.

But if you buy your festive nibbles from the supermarket rather than making them at home, have you ever wondered exactly how they make each identical bite-sized piece?

After all, Great British Bake Off contestants struggle to produce a dozen identikit nibbles, but factories have to make the 20 million seasonal canape packs we munch each year.

The answers to these questions are given in an Inside The Factory special on BBC2 today.

Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace joins Cherry Healey (pictured) to learn how festive nibbles are made on BBC2’s special of Inside The Factory

Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace goes to the Riverside Bakery, Nottingham, which supplies Marks & Spencer, to see how they produce nearly 200,000 canapes every 24 hours.

About 600 people are employed at the huge factory on an industrial estate. Come December — when 82 per cent of party food is sold — they work round-the-clock to fulfil orders. Demand is so high office staff also muck in to keep the production lines of favourites, such as the M&S mini quiche 12-pack, going.

So just how do you make 39,000 quiche pieces every day?

It all begins with a massive egg delivery. Not in their shells, though — the factory doesn’t have the facilities to crack as many as they need so it’s done elsewhere.

Instead, they arrive in liquid form by lorry every day in huge vats, each containing a ton. A ton equals 20,000 eggs and five tons — or 100,000 eggs — is the amount the factory uses every day across all product lines.

The vats are taken to the ‘custard-mixing’ area where a ‘liquiverter’ (mixing machine) combines some of the egg with 282 litres of whole milk, single cream, salt, mustard and corn starch.

This savoury custard — enough to make 39,000 mini quiches — is then chilled to thicken.

Meanwhile, in another department, the cheese and bacon are being prepared. First 20kg of Emmental and mature Cheddar are grated in a machine that can take 500kg an hour. The grated cheese is then coated in potato starch to prevent clumping.

Gregg (pictured with Cherry) learned that the Riverside Bakery in Nottingham who supply to Marks & Spencer, need 432kg of pastry a day

Slices of maple-cured smoked bacon are chopped into 10mm squares before all of the ingredients for the filling are combined. Into a huge mixer goes 149kg of chopped bacon, 161kg of grated cheese and 482kg of chilled savoury custard for two minutes. The pastry for the quiche has already been made. Vegetable fat is combined with 75kg flour to make shortcrust pastry, chosen because it’s wonderfully crumbly.

The mixer might be hi-tech, but it has to be banged with a rubber hammer regularly to stop the flour inside getting stuck to its walls.

Next comes another simple — but vital — ingredient, iced water.

When making pastry it’s important to keep the mix cold so the gluten in the flour doesn’t develop too fast and create tough dough.

After just 15 seconds the results are checked by hand to make sure they’re perfect. If the pastry tears easily, it is just so.

Every day 432kg of pastry is needed. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be rolled by hand. Instead, huge dollops of it are loaded onto a conveyor belt and turned into ribbons 1.5cm thick. A guillotine then cuts them into 275g strips which are dropped into aluminium trays.

Next, a pressing machine — heated to 56 degrees to stop sticking — squashes the pastry strip down until it’s forced up the sides of each tray and is 5mm thick.

It takes just 15 minutes to produce 1,625 trays of pastry. Each will produce 24 individual mini quiches. Now it’s time to add the filling. Each quiche has 488g of sav-oury custard mix spread by hand, then half are topped with maple-cured bacon.

Gregg and Cherry (pictured) discovered that each of the factory’s lorries contain a staggering 124,460 bite-sized party food pieces

Finally, it’s put in the oven, which is fiercely heated from below to prevent a dreaded soggy bottom. Also vital is the pricking of the foil containers underneath, which lets the heat in more quickly.

Just 26 minutes later, the golden quiches are ready.

But it doesn’t end there. Quality control means one tray is taken off the line every half an hour to check the pastry and filling.

The rest of the batch goes to the chiller for 70 minutes at minus 15, until ready for cutting.

The quiches are removed from the aluminium trays by hand and put in the ‘bites cutter’ – which slices off the pastry crusts and divides the rest into 24 cubes, all 3.5cm square. Six pieces are taken out by hand and boxed up with six cheese and onion quiches to make a party pack.

A 77m long conveyor belt known as ‘the race track’ then takes them to the packing department where the boxes are placed by hand into crates ready to be loaded onto trucks.

Each lorry contains a staggering 124,460 bite-sized party food pieces.

It’s taken ten hours, 51 minutes and 30 seconds to produce the batch — now the vans just need to deliver them across the country, ready to be bought, taken home and eaten by hungry festive partygoers.

Inside The Factory: Christmas Party Food is on BBC2 today at 8.55pm.

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A Christmas Carol's Tiny Tim star 'inspire' people with disabilities

A Christmas Carol’s Tiny Tim star Lenny Rush, 10, hopes his television debut will ‘inspire’ other people with disabilities that ‘anything is possible’

He is set to make his television debut on the 22nd of December as one of the lead characters in the Charles Dickens festive classic.

And A Christmas Carol’s Tiny Tim star Lenny Rush, 10, who has a rare form of dwarfism, has revealed that he hopes his appearance on the BBC series will inspire other people with disabilities. 

The 10-year-old Essex actor, who has spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SDC) which affects bone growth, wants viewers to see that ‘anything is possible if you try hard enough’.

TV debut: A Christmas Carol’s Tiny Tim star Lenny Rush, 10, who has a rare form of dwarfism, has revealed that he hopes his appearance on the BBC series will inspire other people with disabilities (pictured in character) 

Over the years, there have been debates over able-bodied actors playing Tiny Tim with more and more directors casting a child with a disability for the role.  

Talking to the Daily Mail, Lenny said: ‘I think why not cast a disabled actor in the role of a disabled person if they are good at what they do? It raises awareness and shows that everyone is different.’

He added: ‘I hope that in five years I’ve been able to work with some more amazing directors and actors, and that I am still acting as I love it so much.’

Lenny will star alongside Guy Pearce as Ebenezer Scrooge and Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley in the upcoming BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ festive classic A Christmas Carol.

Star-studded cast: The 10-year-old Essex actor, who has spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SDC) which affects bone growth, stars alongside Guy Pearce as Ebenezer Scrooge (pictured in character) 

A Christmas Carol: Stephen Graham pictured as Jacob Marley in the upcoming BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ festive classic A Christmas Carol

The 10-year-old has already starred in the likes of CBeebies’ Apple Tree House and comedy film Old Boys. 

In November, the first trailer for the BBC’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, helmed by Peaky Blinders creator Stephen Knight, was released.     

In an darker twist of the Charles Dickens classic, the teaser depicts Guy Pearce’s Ebenezer Scrooge’s series of ghoulish visitors attempt to transform him into a kind man, with terrifying visions and ghostly encounters.

Reflecting the more sinister take on the novel, Andy Serkis’ Ghost of Christmas Past tells the businessman ominously: ‘Tonight, you will not sleep. Come and look upon the evil that you did.’

FIRST LOOK: In November, the first trailer for the BBC’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, helmed by Peaky Blinders creator Stephen Knight, was released

Scrooge watches in distress as he’s confronted by horrifying visions of his workers desperately clamouring to the surface of a mine before its imminent collapse, as well as the fiery carnage left in the wake of a factory explosion. 

While Joe Alwyn’s overworked, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit is seen tending to his sick child Tiny Tim, as Ebenezer watches in dismay.

‘Who are you?’ he demands of the ghoul.

Classic tale: The teaser depicted Guy Pearce’s Ebenezer Scrooge’s series of ghoulish visitors attempt to transform him into a kind man with terrifying visions and ghostly encounters

Dark: Reflecting the more sinister take on the novel, Andy Serkis’ Ghost of Christmas Past tells him ominously, ‘Tonight, you will not sleep. Come and look upon the evil that you did’

‘A ghost,’ Andy Serkis’ character responds, his long white hair and beard obscuring his face while a thorn wreath sits atop his head.

One scene shows Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past watching a film showing him and his former fiancée Belle in happier times, while in another they talk quietly to each other before she breaks off their engagement.

When the miser asks what the ghost wants from him, Serkis’ character responds in a gravely tone: ‘To inspect your heart and soul.’

Vinette Robinson’s Mary Cratchit is then seen confronting Scrooge, seemingly after he begrudgingly gave her husband just Christmas Day off over the festive season.

Victm: Joe Alwyn’s overworked, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit is seen tending to his sick child Tiny Tim, as Ebenezer watches in dismay

Unable to help him: Tiny Tim is seen sick and in pain, as the Cratchit family’s low income from Scrooge means they can’t afford the medicine and treatment to make him better

‘Justice will grab you by the throat and drag you to the truth,’ she claims.

The trailer also shows a glimpse of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, as actor Jason Flemyng transforms into a silent figure dressed in a black cape and top-hat, with his mouth sewn shut.

Continuing to embrace the adaptation’s darker tone, Ebenezer is seen screaming in pain as he is dragged through the snow by a horse-and-carriage.

Death and destruction: As a fiery carnage left in the wake of a factory explosion, Ebenezer watches in distress

Intentions: When the miser asks what the ghost wants from him, Serkis’ character responds in a gravely tone: ‘To inspect your heart and soul’

Serkis’ character ends the trailer in a menacing tone, as he claims: ‘This is not a game, Ebenezer Scrooge.’

The mini-series will feature three episodes aired on 22nd December at 9pm, 23rd December at 9.05pm and 24th December at 9pm on BBC One in the UK and FX in the US.

The show is executive-produced by Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and Ridley Scott.

Ominous: Continuing to depict the darker tone of the adaptation, Ebenezer is seen screaming in pain as he is dragged through the snow by a horse-and-carriage

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Vanderpump Rules’ Star Tom Sandoval Reveals Why Lisa Vanderpump Leaving ‘RHOBH’ Was The Best Decision

‘Vanderpump Rules’ star Tom Sandoval is grateful Lisa Vanderpump left ‘RHOBH.’ He says she’s much more ‘present’ now that she doesn’t have to deal with the drama.

Vanderpump Rules star Tom Sandoval thinks his boss Lisa Vanderpump made the right move when she quit the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after nine seasons. By her final season she was so stressed out from the “puppygate’ scandal and the problems it caused between her and the rest of the cast. She eventually stopped filming scenes with them altogether. We caught up with Tom, 36, at the Fancy AF Cocktail book launch celebrating his and Ariana Madix‘ new guide in West Hollywood on Dec. 10 and he told us that leaving the Housewives was good for Lisa.

“I think that Lisa seems so much more present now that she’s not having to deal with filming Housewives. So she seems so much more integral in our show, with us,” Tom reveals EXCLUSIVELY to HollywoodLife.com. While he didn’t give up any details of what’s in store for Lisa, 59, on this coming season of Vanderpump Rules, he tells us the upcoming season eight is going to be one of the show’s best ever.

“My gosh. Well, I got to tell you, this is probably going to be one of the best seasons yet. It has so, so, so much. So many things happen. If you watched the supersedes, it’s crazy. This is going to be very eventful and we have new cast members, new blood and they’re all very great. Here’s one of them right here, Max,” Tom explained, with Tom Tom’s GM Max Boyens next to him. Tom Tom is the West Hollywood bar he opened along with Lisa and Tom Schwartz, 37, in August of 2018.

In addition to Max, there will be a lot of new faces in season eight…some familiar, some new. Stassi Schroeder‘s fiance Beau Clark and James Kennedy‘s girlfriend Raquel Leviss will be regular cast members. Newcomers include brand new SUR staffers Brett Caprioni, Charli BurnettDanica Dow and Dayna Kathan.

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RICHARD KAY: David Bellamy, the jolly green giant of broadcasting

The jolly green giant of nature broadcasting: He thrilled us with his wild approach to presenting but David Bellamy, who has died at 86, was frozen out of the BBC for his maverick climate change views, writes RICHARD KAY

With his beard and trademark guffaw, David Bellamy, botanist, academic and conservationist, was one of the most loved figures on TV in the 1970s and 1980s.

Often to be seen crawling on hands and knees through the undergrowth, he opened the eyes of a generation to the threat of disappearing plant and animal species, while encouraging them to care for the wildlife around them.

He was larger than life in every way — a physically big and dominating presence.

During his heyday as a conservationist and TV personality, David was everywhere — on Bellamy On Botany, Bellamy’s Britain, Bellamy’s Europe and Bellamy’s Backyard Safari — wading through marshlands and delivering wonderful rambling monologues illustrated with madly windmilling hands.

There was of course the classic Bellamy image — him peering out of the foliage, eyes bulging, cheeks bursting with childlike enthusiasm. Children adored him because he belonged to their world — a world of creepy crawlies, mudbaths and the great outdoors.

Everyone could do a Bellamy impersonation but Lenny Henry’s, complete with speech impediment ‘Gwapple me gwape nuts’, was the most famous.

There was of course the classic Bellamy image — him peering out of the foliage, eyes bulging, cheeks bursting with childlike enthusiasm (pictured: Bellamy circa September 2002)

David Bellamy tries out the shuttle bike to cross the River Tyne in Newcastle on May 11, 1998 

Bellamy, who has died at the age of 86, was the jolly green giant of the small screen, a label he loved so much he used it as the title of his honest and hugely entertaining autobiography.

His passion for saving the planet was not just confined to TV. He believed in direct action, too.

In 1983, Bellamy was jailed for blockading the Franklin River in Tasmania in protest at a proposed dam, and he later joined protesters trying to halt the controversial M3 extension at Twyford Down in Hampshire.

But then, suddenly, he wasn’t on the small screen anymore, he was deemed no longer box office.

He always believed that it was punishment for his political activism and ‘maverick’ stance on global warming.

In 1997, Bellamy stood against then-prime minister John Major for the anti-European Referendum party — something that he later described as ‘probably the most stupid thing I ever did because I’m sure that if I have been banned from television, that’s why’.

David Bellamy and his grand-daughter Tilly, four, take a walk around the Scottish Seabird Centre after unveiling the centre’s remote wildlife viewing camera in North Berwick, Scotland, 2007

Everyone could do a Bellamy impersonation but Lenny Henry’s, complete with speech impediment ‘Gwapple me gwape nuts’, was the most famous

Later he flew in the face of the prevailing orthodoxy on climate change. In 2004 he dismissed man made global warming as ‘poppycock’ and suffered an extraordinary public and professional backlash, becoming in his words a ‘pariah’.

In an interview with the Mail six years ago, he said: ‘From that moment on, I really wasn’t welcome at the BBC. They froze me out because I didn’t believe in global warming. My career dried up.’

That was not all. He once revealed that he had been accused in a letter of being a ‘paedophile’ — a shameful slur — because ‘he didn’t believe in global warming’.

Bewildered and wounded, Bellamy retreated to his home in rural County Durham, where he had settled with his wife Rosemary.

But he did not go quietly. Over the years he still spoke out about green issues and other matters that could get that famous strangulated drawl motivated. ‘I never used a script,’ he later recalled. ‘I didn’t have people sitting in branches for six months to get a shot. I just talked and talked. It was wonderful.’

In addition to the scores of television programmes, he wrote more than 45 books, and starred in a Ribena commercial.

He also had a Top 40 hit with Brontosaurus, Will You Wait For Me? and appeared on Jim’ll Fix It. Something he regretted.

‘I didn’t like Savile. He was always telling me I should become a DJ because I’d make a lot more money. And why did he pick his nose like that? He was for ever fiddling with it. Not nice.’

Bellamy set up endless charities and campaigning groups — he was patron of more than 400 at one time. ‘I helped to start conservation,’ he claimed, and he was right.

Bellamy set up endless charities and campaigning groups — he was patron of more than 400 at one time. ‘I helped to start conservation,’ he claimed, and he was right

David James Bellamy was born in London in 1933 and was raised in Sutton, Surrey

And he was never afraid to get stuck in or speak his mind, joking: ‘I used to play rugby and I’ve always liked a punch-up.’ He was prepared to live with the consequences, too.

They came thick and fast. In 1996 he let rip against wind farms (‘because they don’t work’) during one of his regular appearances on Blue Peter: ‘That was the beginning really. From that moment, I was not welcome at the BBC.’

The killer blow came when he was dropped by The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, of which he was president and with whom he had worked for more than 50 years. They didn’t even tell him —he read about it in the newspapers.

It was no surprise that he became sceptical of many of the conservation groups he had once enthusiastically endorsed.

‘The World Wildlife Fund might have saved a few pandas, but what about the forests? What have Greenpeace done?,’ he railed in one interview.

As a young man he worked in an ink factory and as a plumber before studying and later teaching botany at Durham University

Of course, his position on climate change contrasted starkly with that of Sir David Attenborough who has been vocal in his belief that rising temperatures represent an existential threat to the planet.

But Bellamy bore him no animus. ‘You can’t knock him, he’s done a fantastic job of opening people’s eyes . . . but we’re different. He’s a natural history man and I’m a campaigner.’

David James Bellamy was born in London in 1933 and was raised in Sutton, Surrey. As a child he suffered from a kidney condition that should have killed him — he later revealed that he overheard the hospital sister tell his mother: ‘He won’t be with us tomorrow.’

There were other narrow escapes — two bombs fell on their house during World War II.

As a young man he worked in an ink factory and as a plumber before studying and later teaching botany at Durham University.

He achieved wider recognition following his work on the Torrey Canyon oil spill in 1967 when the tanker ran aground off the Cornish coast causing an environmental catastrophe.

TV work followed, launching his small-screen career, and thanks to his distinctive voice and screen presence, Bellamy quickly became a popular presenter. In 1979 he won Bafta’s Richard Dimbleby Award.At his peak, he was one of the most respected and sought-after experts in his field and although his ban from TV screens saddened him, he wasn’t bitter.

‘When I was at the BBC, I could do whatever I wanted. In those days, you could say what you liked. You can’t now. The world’s gone bonkers,’ he said.

He achieved wider recognition following his work on the Torrey Canyon oil spill in 1967 when the tanker ran aground off the Cornish coast causing an environmental catastrophe

Recalling those TV years, he said: ‘I only ever filmed in the holidays, so my family could all come with me, which nearly bankrupted me.’

It was quite a family.

‘We were always going to have two children of our own and adopt two, but we lost our first five children before our son Rufus was born . . . So we adopted the next four, from all round the world, and they’re wonderful.’

His wife Rosemary — who died last year — was his rock, the love of his life. They met when he was just 17 and were married 60 years.

She was also very understanding of her husband’s interests. They had 32 different species of pet, including a crocodile. ‘I brought it back from Australia — you couldn’t do that now.’

And he had no regrets.

He told the Mail: ‘I’m the world’s luckiest man — I‘ve stood on top of the world and I married a wonderful woman.’

He also inspired a generation with his love of the natural world. That’s not a bad epitaph.

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Stephen King's The Dark Half Is Getting A New Version After 1993's Movie Flopped

Stephen King’s 1989 novel The Dark Half is becoming a film for a second time. Film studio MGM has announced plans to make a new Dark Half movie with Alex Ross Perry (Her Smell) attached to direct, according to Deadline.

The Dark Half book tells the story of a writer whose pseudonym comes to life and starts killing people. It was first adapted into a movie in 1993 directed by horror legend George Romero. Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton starred in the lead role.

The original movie was a flop; it earned $10 million at the box office against a $15 million budget. That movie was also produced by MGM, which is now giving it a second chance.

It appears to be very early days for the new Dark Half. No announcements have been made yet about a cast, a start date for production, or a release date.

Numerous King novels have been adapted for TV and movies, the latest of which was Doctor Sleep, which is a sequel to The Shining. It was a box office disappointment, and it is expected to end up losing money for Warner Bros.

Some of King’s other works that have been made into TV shows and movies have included The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, It, Carrie, Pet Semetary, Stand by Me, The Mist, Maximum Overdrive, and Cujo, among many others. In addition to The Dark Half, there are numerous other Stephen King projects in the works such as The Stand and The Talisman, among others.

Read Next: All 50 Stephen King Movies, Ranked

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Smirnoff Ice offers phony lame Christmas gifts with drink hidden inside

Ugly Christmas sweaters become multimillion-dollar trend: Report

FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto, Fox News Headlines reporter Carley Shimkus, Variety senior correspondent Elizabeth Wagmeister and Capitalist Pig hedge fund founder and manager Jonathan Hoenig discuss the impact ugly Christmas sweaters have on the market and consumers.

If you and your bros are running dry on ways to creatively “ice” each other, Smirnoff Ice has your back this holiday season.

Continue Reading Below

The company is selling bottles of Smirnoff Ice Original that come shipped in a fake-out box from the non-existent brand Cremsiffino — an anagram for Smirnoff Ice — that are designed to look like they hold “boring” gifts like wooden clothes hangers, an ironing board or a hand mixer rather than a flavored malt beverage.

People (over the age of 21, of course) across the U.S. (where legally permissible) can visit GiftAGram.com/SmirnoffIceBoxes to purchase Cremsiffino gift boxes filled with one bottle of Smirnoff Ice Original for just $20 including shipping. (Smirnoff)


“Icing” is the decade-old drinking game in which someone sneakily presents a Smirnoff Ice to another person, who is then required to kneel and chug the alcoholic beverage.

Smirnoff brand director Krista Kiisk said in a news release that Smirnoff Ice “has a history of being unconventional and adding fun to any occasion.”

“With the Cremsiffino boxes, we’ve turned what can be a boring gifting moment into delicious, unforgettable fun, and the gift giver into the party legend,” Kiisk said.


The gifts cost $20 each on Giftagram, or $10 for the box alone. Of course, anyone buying the beverage must be 21 or older.


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How Crisis Is Using The Spectre and Oliver Queen to Reshape the Arrowverse

Warning: this article contains spoilers for the first three episodes of Crisis on Infinite Earths!

The CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover is already jam-packed with heroes both familiar and new, but another important new player entered the stage in Part 3: Stephen Lobo's Jim Corrigan, better known as the human host of the Spectre.While he only appears briefly in Part 3, it's clear the Spectre will have a big part to play in the future of the Arrowverse. Not only that, Oliver Queen seems to be a key piece of that puzzle. Read on for a quick breakdown of who the Spectre is and why his fate is now entwined with that of the Green Arrow.Crisis on Infinite Earths: Every Cameo in the Crossover

Who Is the Spectre?

The Spectre is actually one of the oldest DC heroes, debuting in 1940's More Comics #52. He's also a founding member of DC's first superhero team, the Justice Society of America, At the time, the Spectre was depicted as the costumed alter ego of Jim Corrigan, a detective who was murdered by criminals but whose soul was rejected by the afterlife. Instead, Corrigan returned to life and began waging war on all criminals.However, the Spectre has been re-imagined for the contemporary DC Universe. Now the character is depicted as "The Spirit of Vengeance," a powerful, ghostly entity who punishes evildoers in cruel and often ironic ways. For instance, one classic story shows the Spectre threatening to kill the entire population of New York after an innocent man is put on death row. In his eyes, an execution done in the name of the people makes those people responsible for its consequences.
In order to ensure the Spectre maintains a proper perspective on human affairs, the Spectre's master "The Voice" requires that he be bonded to a mortal (usually Jim Corrigan). The Spectre also once found a new host in former Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Becoming the Spectre was Hal's penance after a dark period where he was driven mad by Parallax and murdered most of his Green Lantern comrades. Gotham City detective Crispus Allen also once served as the Spectre's human host after Hal was redeemed.

The Spectre in the Arrowverse

The Arrowverse is only just now introducing the Spectre and his human host, though NBC's short-lived Constantine series seemed to be building towards the character's introduction before it was canceled. That series featured Emmett Scanlan in the role of Detective Jim Corrigan. The role was recast for Crisis, hence why Matt Ryan's John Constantine doesn't recognize Stephen Lobo's Corrigan. This version of the character appears to be from another branch of the DC multiverse (possibly from Earth-666, where the Netflix series Lucifer is set).Crisis on Infinite Earths Crossover PhotosIt's fitting that Crisis serves as the Spectre's debut, as the character played a key role in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths comic. The Spectre is one of the most powerful beings in the universe, capable of inflicting punishment on the worst evildoers. In the comic, the Spectre is the only one strong enough to fight the Anti-Monitor directly, though even he was only strong enough to hold the all-powerful villain at bay long enough for Earth's heroes to enact their final plan. It seems safe to assume the character will have a similar part to play in the final two episodes of Crisis. The multiverse is gone, but the Spirit of Vengeance still lives.

Oliver Queen as the Spectre

However, it appears the Arrowverse is making one significant change to the Spectre as the crossover nears its climax. Based on the events of Part 3, it won't be Jim Corrigan controlling the Spectre, but Oliver Queen. As in the comics, a popular hero is taking on the mantle. But rather than Hal Jordan (whose existence has barely even been alluded to in the Arrowverse), it's Oliver Queen.This gives us a better idea of where Ollie will end up as the crossover wraps and Arrow moves into its final two episodes. Despite his heroic sacrifice on Earth-38, Ollie apparently won't stay dead. Instead, he'll become bonded to the Spectre, play his part in Crisis and continue living on as the mortal host to one of the most powerful forces in the Arrowverse.LoadingIt's a fitting evolution for the character, and not just because Ollie and the Spectre are both so fond of green hoods. Arrow has always been the story of Ollie's quest to become "something else," tracing his evolution from carefree playboy to hardened killer to noble superhero to a father confronting his own, inevitable death. This is Ollie's last and greatest transformation. All that he's experienced in the 12 years between arriving on Lian Yu and making his final sacrifice have shaped Ollie's perspective on the world and the nature of justice. That perspective is clearly why the power of the Spectre is passing from Jim Corrigan to Oliver Queen.This seems like a way of allowing the character a relatively happy ending and a second lease on life now that his prophesied death has come to pass. Arrow may be ending, but this leaves the door open for Stephen Amell to reprise his role on a more limited basis – in other words, for future crossovers where the power of the Spectre is most needed.This surprising status quo shift could also tie into the ambiguous way Felicity Smoak's story ended in Arrow: Season 7. When last we saw the older Felicity of 2040, she reunited with Mar Novu and walked through a portal to an unknown destination from which she can never return. It was implied that she was reuniting with Ollie. It may be that Ollie is destined to bond with the Spectre for 20 years, at the end of which he and Felicity can finally enjoy a life together, free from the woes of Star City.LoadingWhat do you think of Oliver Queen's transformation into The Spectre? Let us know in the comments below. And for more on this epic crossover, check out our reviews for Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here. Then find out Jon Cryer's thoughts on bringing back Lex Luthor.

Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

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Daily horoscope for Thursday December 12 — here’s what the stars have in store for you today – The Sun


March 21 to April 20

The full moon adds emotional understanding to logical thinking, so you can make clever yet caring decisions.

Your way with words means everyone, from close family to big bosses, respects and enjoys what you say.

When it comes to romance, you could find a Gemini's charm and chat-up lines irresistible.


April 21 to May 21

When one partner is happy to splash the cash while the other is more cautious, it is important to agree on a compromise so love doesn’t suffer.

If you start the day single, Mars matches you with someone who is your opposite in looks, lifestyle and ambition.

Yet you could make each other so happy.


May 22 to June 21

It happens just once a year and now is the time.

The full moon is in your sign, sweeping away delays and doubts to inspire success.

True love isn’t just in the air – it is everywhere you go.

If you have been single for a while, this is the prime time to meet The One.

The initial “A” is an extra clue.


June 22 to July 22

Bright ides flow faster as quick-witted Mercury takes charge of your job chart.

Serious Saturn sees you making a success of plans to work in partnership with a friend in your spare time.

The full moon makes people keen to confide in you.

When you read a partner’s mind, you will like most of what you find there.


July 23 to August 23

The ability to trust is a gift from the full moon that can apply to key relationships at work, college or at home.

If your belief in love needs repairing, start now.

Pluto, planet of change, mentors your fitness plans and when you try something different, such as a riding class, you could meet someone new.

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August 24 to September 22

At first it may feel like boasting but show belief in your talent and that you are ready to take advice.

The energy and emotional power of the full moon at the top of your chart make it easy for you to win love but it is important to choose someone who is ready for the real deal.


September 23 to October 23

Even if you think you prefer a quiet, well-organised life, the full moon’s arrival in the most adventurous part of your chart opens your mind and heart to new faces and places.

If you are single, this could be a reason for learning a new language.

Settled couples map out travel plans for the new year.


October 24 to November 22

The most passionate full moon of your year promises a day to find your soulmate, or discover how much more there is to a partner than you thought.

Keep cash talks straightforward rather than trying to impress.

People will respond to the real you.

Luck will make three visits to door 23.


November 23 to December 21

Strict Saturn is well-established in your cash chart and to your surprise, perhaps, you get a better understanding of all things financial.

Your confidence grows with it.

The moon of marriage makes its once-a-year visit to your relationships zone, making this a prime time for proposals or a first meeting with The One.


December 22 to January 20

As good-times planet Jupiter settles in next to Venus in the most personal part of your chart, you are so smart about partnerships and get the right balance between time spent together and time for your own plans.

If you are single, an amazing new partner wears a stylish uniform when you meet.


January 21 to February 18

The luckiest full moon of your year shines on your in-born gifts. Instead of watching a contest on TV, you can take part.

Or turn a story you invent to entertain the family on a trip into a money-maker.

As for passion, you meet a Libra who has all the qualities you look for in a friend, plus some romantic extras.


February 19 to March 20

Frosty family relationships warm up now you gently lead people across a gulf of old grudges to focus on plans for the future.

These could include an unusual but very beautiful romantic celebration.

The full moon is on a mission to find you a “for ever” home. Single? Neptune links you with a photographer.

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