Monday, 2 May 2011

Awesome Higgins Wins Fourth World Crown

John Higgins beat Judd Trump 18-15 in a pulsating final to win the World Snooker Championship for the fourth time.

In one of the best world finals in recent memory and certainly the best since Shaun Murphy beat Matthew Stevens in 2005, Higgins became the only player other than Stephen Hendry (seven) and Steve Davis (six) to lift the famous trophy more than three times at the Crucible.

Higgins trailed 10-7 overnight but used all of his experience and matchplay class to win 11 of the 16 frames today. Trump had chances in most of the frames but missed key balls at vital moments as his hopes of becoming the second youngest champion - after Hendry in 1990 - faded away in the closing stages.

Wishaw's 35-year-old Higgins collected a cheque for £250,000 in winning his third world title in the past five attempts. It's hard to believe that in 2007 he questioned whether he would go down as one of snooker's all-time greats, as he had just one Crucible crown to his name. Now, with his name engraved four times on the trophy, he is an undisputed legend of the sport.

The past 12 months have been the most turbulent time of the Scot's life, with the six month ban for breaching betting regulations followed by the illness and death of his father John Snr. His remarkable capacity to clear his mind on the table and focus on the match at hand was once again evident tonight; only in the post-match interviews did he break down in tears.

Having played the best snooker of his life on a consistent basis over the past four years, and with plenty of time at the top ahead of him, he feels he can challenge the record of seven world titles set by fellow-Scot Hendry.

John Higgins. Picture Ben Mole

This is Higgins' 24th ranking title in all, leaving him just four behind Davis (28) though still a long way short of Hendry (36). Despite missing the first five months of the campaign, he has won three ranking events this season plus an EPTC tournament, and has now won 18 of his last 19 matches on the pro tour.

Snooker's equivalent of the Terminator, he's the player who just can't be killed off. Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Williams and Trump all had him on the ropes at certain points, but he just refuses to crumble. No other player in history has been as good at winning frames from at least 50 points behind.

Despite Higgins' triumph, this classic tournament will be best remembered for the electric performances of Trump. The 21-year-old left-hander from Bristol with bundles of cue power lit up the event with his sensational and stylish attacking play, delighting fans with a multitude of full-blooded long pots and deep screw shots.

The atmosphere at the start of the evening session was generally agreed to be the best ever witnessed at a snooker match - a clear sign that Trump has captured the imagination of the snooker public. Young, photogenic, fashionable, laid-back and straight-talking, he's a hero for the Twitter generation.

Trump, whose style of play has attracted comparisons to a young Jimmy White and the Shaun Murphy of 2005, will be desperately disappointed not to finish tonight with the fairytale ending. But surely he will be back on the biggest stage competing for the crown and thriving in his new role as the sport's boy wonder.

Ray Winstone: "My gamble on Sweeney role!"

East London actor Ray Winstone fears that he could be setting himself up for a fall with the new film version of the 70s television classic The Sweeney.

The Sexy Beast star is set to play Jack Regan, the role played by the late, great, John Thaw, in the film adaptation which begins shooting this autumn. He told Sky News: "You think, 'why would you want to remake something that's so iconic?' and I thought about this for a while.

"Then I read the script and it really surprised me how good it was."

The recent remake of Arthur, which stars Russell Brand, has been panned by the critics and raised questions about whether the film industry should be doing remakes at all.

"I haven't seen Arthur yet, but we're going to put ourselves on the line with The Sweeney.

John Thaw And Dennis Waterman In Sweeney

(John Thaw & Dennis Waterman in the 70s Sweeney)

"We've got to do the job properly you know. And that's alright, I've had a fight before and this is another one," said Winstone.

The original cop-series about London's Flying Squad ran between 1975 and 1978 and was hugely popular.

He'll be joined on set by British rapper Plan B who's been cast as George Carter, the character originally played by Dennis Waterman.

"We've got Plan B. We haven't got two skinny boys running about with their hair all nice.

"You look at him - Plan B - he looks like he can come through a front door. He's a very intelligent kid and you know what, he can act!"

School for Scoundrels (1959)

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School for Scoundrels (d. Robert Hamer, 1959) was adapted from a popular series of books by Stephen Potter - Gamesmanship (1947),Lifemanship (1950), Oneupmanship (1952) and Supermanship (1958) - in which he explained "how to win without actually cheating" by taking psychological advantage of your opponent at every possible opportunity.

As the books were essentially non-narrative, the film presents an original scenario whereby Alastair Sim plays a character named Stephen Potter, whose College of Lifemanship is attended by men such as the hapless Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael), plagued by cads such as Raymond Delaunay (Terry-Thomas) and slimy car salesmen Dunstan and Dudley Dorchester (Dennis Price and Peter Jones).

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Although credited to Patricia Moyes and producer Hal Chester, the screenplay was co-written by Peter Ustinov and Frank Tarloff, an American-born screenwriter who had been exiled to Britain after being blacklisted by the McCarthy hearings. Credited director Robert Hamerwould suffer a blacklist of a different kind - a recovering alcoholic, he fell off the wagon during production, was sacked on the spot (Chester and the uncredited Cyril Frankel finished the film), and would never work in the industry again.

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Truth to tell, there's little sign of the elegance and wit that characterised earlier Hamer films such as Kind Hearts and Coronets or The Spider and the Fly (both 1949) - the virtues of School For Scoundrels rest almost entirely in the script and performances. Thankfully, the latter are up to scratch - Terry-Thomas in particular is outstanding as a classic British bounder, a somewhat under-used Sim creates another memorably eccentric authority figure, and the supporting cast includes such comedy stalwarts as John Le Mesurier, Hattie Jacques (who were married at the time) and Irene Handl.

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But Ian Carmichael gets the lion's share of screen time, starting off as a close relative of the innocents abroad that he played in Lucky Jim (d. John Boulting, 1957) and I'm All Right Jack (d. Boulting, 1959) - though here he eventually gets to turn the tables on each of his tormentors. That said, his essential niceness gets the better of him when he finds he can't go through with his planned seduction of April (Janette Scott) - and in turn teaches Potter (and us) a valuable lesson: psychology is all very well if you're merely playing games, but sincerity is far better if you genuinely mean it.



Published by


Volume 27, No.316, May 1960, page 66


Henry Palfrey, new pupil at the College of Lifemanship at Yeovil, recounts his depressing history to the principal, Mr. Potter. The proprietor of a small family business, he is bullied in his office by his chief clerk; he is humiliated by head waiters; he has been tricked by two second-hand car salesmen into buying a decrepit and costly wreck of a car; he has lost his girl, April Smith, to the insufferable Raymond Delauney; and he has allowed Delauney to beat him at tennis. A short course in Lifemanship reverses the situation. Under Potter's paternal supervision, Palfrey returns to wreck the nerves of the chief clerk; to make the car dealers victims of an even more sensational swindle (he exchanges the wreck for a new sports car and £100); to practice gamesmanship on a harassed Delauney and to win back April Smith. His reversion to sincerity in proposing to April comes as something of a shock to Potter, who rapidly recovers to see here the inauguration of a new ploy. The professor of Lifemanship also acquires a new pupil, Delauney.

The joke of Lifemanship, so elaborately worked up by Stephen Potter in his series of books, already looks a little fatigued, like the game of U and non-U. School for Scoundrels might have used it as a foundation for some edged social comedy; and occasionally it seems that this may be just around the corner. But the corner is never turned and the film keeps to a simpler formula: the before and after manner of the advertisements, with the one-down man rather monotonously demonstrating how Potterism has helped him to become one-up. In view of the limitations of the script, which makes nothing of the underlying savageries of the Lifemanship game of humiliation and inspired bad manners, Robert Hamer has directed with intelligent restraint. If the comedy lacks sharpness, he has not allowed it to become further blunted by bogus joviality. The two episodes with the car salesmen, played with gloating greed by Dennis Price and Peter Jones, are the funniest; and there moments at the Lifemanship College which suggest that these short scenes could have stood expansion. Ian Carmichael allows himself to appear a trifle sulky as the victim and boorish as the victor. Alastair Sim, playing a canny, solitary game of croquet or turning to the audience at the end with a horror-stricken "stop the music", has chosen to emphasise the gentler aspects of Lifemanship.

The Monthly Film Bulletin was published by the British Film Institute between 1934 and 1991. Initially aimed at distributors and exhibitors as well as filmgoers, it carried reviews and details of all UK film releases. In 1991, the Bulletin was absorbed by Sight and Sound magazine.

Remembering Yootha Joyce.

Yootha Joyce as Mildred Roper from George and Mildred ,  Photograph  C71073

Yootha Joyce Needham was born in Wandsworth, London, the only child of musical parents Hurst Needham, a well-known singer, and Jessica Revitt, a concert pianist. Joyce was evacuated to Hampshire during World War 2. She left school at 15, then trained at RADA where Roger Moore was a fellow student and toured with Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA).

In 1958 Yootha married the actor Glynn Edwards, best known for playing Dave, landlord of the Winchester Club in Minder. It was through Edwards that she first came to prominence in the renowned Joan Littlewood Theatre Workshop, appearing at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in Fings ain't what they used T'Be and going on to make her film debut in 1962 in Sparrers Can't Sing. Joyce and Edwards divorced in 1968.

Yootha Joyce

Yootha Joyce

In the 1960s and 1970s, she became a familiar face in many one-off sitcom roles and supporting parts in films, with her first main recurring role being Miss Argyll, frustrated girlfriend of the title star Milo O'Shea in three series of Me Mammy (1968–71). Prior to that, she played a cameo role in The Pumpkin Eater as a psychotic young woman opposite Anne Bancroft, delivering a performance that has been called one of the "best screen acting miniatures one could hope to see."

Her talent for comedy was also used to good effect in programmes such as Steptoe and Son and On The Buses. She made appearances in the movies Catch us if you can, A Man for all Seasons and Charlie Bubbles, as well as TV spin-off films Never mind the quality feel the width, Nearest and Dearest and Steptoe and Son Ride Again. She also appeared as a customer in the pilot episode of Open All Hours and in a 'dark' 1967 movie about a family of young children, entitled Our Mother's House, which starred Dirk Bogarde.

Mildred Roper

But it was not until 1973 that she acquired a starring role, when she was cast as man-hungry Mildred Roper, wife of landlord George, in the innovative sitcom Man About The House. This series, which starred Richard O'Sullivan, Paula Wilcox and Sally Thomsett, as well as Brian Murphy, as George Roper, ran until 1976 and told the story of two young women and a young man sharing the Ropers' upstairs flat, and the sexual tension and misunderstandings such living arrangements provide.

When the series reached a natural end, a spin-off was written for the Ropers, and George and Mildred was first broadcast in 1976. The couple were seen moving from the London house in Middleton Terrace which they had owned in the previous programme and into a newer suburban property in Peacock Crescent, Hampton Wick. Much of the new series centred on Mildred's desire to better herself in her new surroundings, but always being thwarted, usually unwittingly, by her lifeskills-lacking husband's desire for a quiet life.

The way Yootha Joyce portrayed the character of Mildred Roper, with such strong, resilient and dragon-like qualities, concealed the actress's real-life alcohol problem.

A feature film was made of George and Mildred in 1980, but this was to be Joyce's last work. Amidst growing concern over her health she was admitted to hospital in the summer of 1980. Yootha Joyce died, in hospital, of liver failure four days after her 53rd birthday on 24 August 1980. Her good friend, the actor Brian Murphy, who played her screen husband, George Roper, was at her bedside. She was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.

At the inquest into her death, it was revealed that she had been drinking upwards of half a bottle of brandy a day for ten years, and that she had, in the words of her lawyer, Mario Uziell-Hamilton, become a victim of her own success and the thought of being typecast as Mildred Roper.

Yootha Joyce

She made her last television appearance, shown after her death, on Max, Max Bygraves' variety show, on 14 January 1981. She sang The Carpenters song, "For all we know". At the end of this performance, she told Bygraves, "Thanks, I enjoyed that." The actor/comedian Kenneth Williams recorded in his diary that ...she looked as though she was crying... He also went on to mention her in a later entry in his diary (9 April 1988) that she was "a lady who made so many people happy and a lady who never complained".

In 1986, the British band The Smiths released a single "Ask" which was adorned with a photograph (both on the cover and reverse) in memory of Yootha Joyce.

In 2001, a tribute documentary entitled The Unforgettable Yootha Joyce was broadcast by ITV, which featured many of her co-stars and friends, including Sally Thomsett, Brian Murphy and Norman Eshley, talking about memories and their relationships with Yootha Joyce.

Yootha Joyce

Ready Steady go!
Ready Steady Go! or simply RSG! was one of the UK's first rock/pop music TV programmes. It was conceived by Elkan Allen, head of Rediffusion TV. Allan was assisted by record producer/talent manager Vicki Wickham, who became the producer. It was broadcast from August 1963 until December 1966. It was produced by Associated Rediffusion the weekday ITV contractor for London, called Rediffusion-London post 1964. The live show was eventually networked nationally.

The show gained its highest ratings on 20 March 1964 when it featured the Beatles being interviewed and performed their songs "It Won't Be Long", "You Can't Do That" and "Can't Buy Me Love" - the last of which was a hit at the time. Its last episode was transmitted on 23 December 1966.

The show went out early on Friday evenings with the line "The weekend starts here!", and was introduced by The Surfaris "Wipe Out" - later replaced by Manfred Mann's "5-4-3-2-1" (later replaced by Manfred Mann's "Hubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble"). It was more youth orientated and informal than its BBC rival (from 1964), Top of the Pops. Owing to the scheduling of local news in parts of the UK, several ITV regions joined the show part-way through.

Initially, RSG! artists mimed to records but by late 1964 some performed live and the show switched to all-live performances in April 1965. It was noted for allowing artists to perform the full version of their songs rather than the short versions demanded by other shows. Despite its popularity in the UK, the programme was never broadcast in the United States.

The show was recorded at small studios in Rediffusion's Headquatres in Kingsway, London. Although the company had bigger facilities at Wembley it was easier to attract stars to central London. As the studios were compact it was not possible to hide cameras. The ever-present cameras, which were very large with rotating lens turrets rather than zooms, were sometimes incorporated into the action, notably in a Manfred Mann performance of the song Machines which ended with Paul Jones singing crouched on the floor surrounded by menacing cameras.

The show had a popular following among the British Mod youth subculture of the 1960s.

In 1966, the time that the 'beat boom' was fading, the show was cancelled. Its disappearance at the height of its popularity enhanced its status. Many years later the British musician Dave Clark bought the rights to the surviving recordings of the show. Compilations were broadcast on Channel 4 in the 1980s and VHS videos were issued. In 1989 the show was seen for the first time in the US, on Disney Channel. During that time, Disney was a pay channel, that aired programming aimed at adults at night. Ready Steady Go! has not been officially released on DVD.

The most famous presenters were Keith Fordyce and Cathy McGowan, though early shows were introduced by Dusty Springfield. The show was occasionally presented by David Gell and Michael Aldred. McGowan joined after answering an advert for "a typical teenager" as advisor. She found herself presenting the show, and in fact her status as a fan was evident in her style; stumbling over lines, losing her cool and apparent inexperience made her more popular and by the end she was presenting alone. She also joined in various fun and games including miming with The Rolling Stones to other peoples records, notably "I Got You Babe".

It featured most successful artists of the era, among them The Beatles, The Hollies, The Zombies, Dusty Springfield, The Supremes, The Walker Brothers, The Kinks, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Fourmost, The Rolling Stones, Donovan (discovered by RSG!), The Fortunes, Helen Shapiro, P.J Proby, Otis Redding, Freddie & The Dreamers, The Dave Clark Five, Bobby Vee, The Animals, Cilla Black, The Searchers, The Who, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Billy Furry, Lulu, Marvin Gaye, Gene Pitney, The Beach Boys, Sandie Shaw, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kenny Lynch, Small Faces, Them and The Four Pennies. It was said that Cliff Richard never appeared on the programme because he was considered too popular and would unwittingly incite too great a reaction from the audience.

During one of the Beatles' appearances, Paul MaCartney judged a contest between four teenage girls miming to Brenda Lee's "Let's Jump the Broomstick" (the group had opened for Lee before becoming famous), choosing 13-year-old Melanie Coe as the winner. Three years later, after Coe's disappearance made the front page of the Daily Mirror, McCartney would immortalize her in song, using the article as the basis for "She's Leaving Home".

Jimi Hendrix made first TV appearance in England on RSG! with "Hey Joe". After this appearance his club tour sold out and he was quickly added to a nationwide tour headlined by the Walker Brothers. Dusty Springfield devised and introduced the RSG Motown Special in April 1965, featuring The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Miracles and Martha and the Vandellas The Supremes performed their now legendary, Stop! in the name of love dance routine for the first time on the show.

The Who proved particularly popular and in 1966 had an episode to themselves entitled Ready Steady Who. The programme no longer exists, but an EP of the name marked the show (although no recordings were from the show). The Walker Brothers were also hugely popular and had a special live edition in 1966 but again the tape was wiped, although extracts surfaced on Youtube in 2009 proving the group did not mime.

Although not mentioned by name.. Ready, Steady, Go! is parodied in the 1967 Film Bedazzled featuring comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (who both appeared on RSG!). In one sequence during the movie, both Cook and Moore play the parts of pop stars singing songs with girls in the audience going crazy for them. Cook's "Devil" character and his group taking the name of "Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations".

TV's Clive James has leukaemia

Veteran TV presenter and critic Clive James has leukaemia, it has emerged.

The 71-year-old Australian, who lives in England, has been battling with the illness for 15 months.

His illness was disclosed by the editor of The Australian Literary Review, Luke Slattery, who said he wrote to James after his requests for an essay were politely rebuffed on grounds of ill health and after James referred to several life-threatening conditions in his poetry, Australian Associated Press reported.

TV presenter and author Clive James has leukaemia

James wrote back saying he was hospitalised in January 2010 for kidney failure. "I was immediately diagnosed for everything else as well, including several lung diseases and a version of leukaemia that is supposed to develop slowly but in my case couldn't wait to get started, mainly in my lungs," he wrote. Slattery, writing in The Australian, said James had been forced to ration his time to work on several book projects, including a second volume of his book Cultural Amnesia.

James has lived in England since leaving Sydney in 1961. He became a columnist for The Observer and has worked for the BBC and independent television. The Mail on Sunday quoted his wife Prue Shaw, an academic, as saying: "Clive has been ill for around 15 months and is being treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

"He is suffering from CLL - Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia - which if you must have the condition is the kind you want because they can monitor it."

Henry Cooper: 1934 - 2011

British boxing legend Sir Henry Cooper has died, aged 76

Sir Henry Cooper OBE (3 May 1934 – 1 May 2011) was an English Heavy weight Boxer known for a particularly effective left hook (known as "Enry's 'Ammer") and his knockdown of the young Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay. Cooper held the British and European heavyweight boxing titles, and, following his retirement from the sport, continued his career as a television and radio personality. In later years, he retired from commentary on boxing as he became "disillusioned with boxing", wanting "straight, hard and fast boxing that he was used to from his times." Cooper received an OBE in 1969 and a Knighthood in 2000. He was enormously popular in Britain: he was the first (and is today one of just three people) to twice win the public vote for BBC Sports Personality of the year Award

Henry Cooper was born in Westminster, London. He and his identical twin brother, George (who died in 2010), grew up in a council house on the Bellignham Estate on Farmstead Road, South East London, although during the Second World War they were evacuated to Lancing on the Sussex Coast.

Around 1942, their father, Henry Senior, was called up to serve in the war; the rest of the family did not see him again for almost three years. The twins attended Athelney Road School in Lewisham. The Cooper brothers were particularly close growing up and, in his biography, Henry talks of how they came to each other's aid when things turned nasty in the school playground. One particular incident landed the young Henry his first knockout in the playground. At school, the only subject that seemed to interest Henry was history, where he enjoyed acting out scenarios.

Life was tough in the latter years of the Second World W ar, and London life especially brought many dangers during the blackout. Henry took up many jobs, including a paper round before school and made money out of recycling golf balls to the clubhouse on the Beckenham course. All three of the Cooper brothers excelled in sport, with George and Henry exercising talents particularly in Football and also Cricket. George Cooper, Henry's twin, died on 11 April 2010 at the age of 75.

Henry Cooper is best known for knocking down Muhammad Ali. However he defeated a string of well known heavyweights during his career, including; Zora Folley, Roy Harris, Karl Mildenberger & Alex Miteff . Henry died on 1 May 2011 at his son's house in Surrey, after a long illness.