Chris Evans ‘categorically’ replaces Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear

Top Gear BMW 330d at Silverstone, Sept 2007 by Colin Eric

In the midst of the controversy surrounding Jeremy Clarkson’s “fracas” with the producer Oisin Tymon a number of candidates were mooted for replacing the loutish petrol-head behind the wheel of Top Gear, one of the best watched programmes in the world.

Amongst them was one Chris Evans, a broadcaster whose long career has included The Big Breakfast and the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. Several bookies had Evans as the frontrunner, with much of Fleet Street and the media touting him as the likeliest choice.

The response? A categorical denial.

At the time of this tweet Clarkson’s position was still a matter of some dispute. However shortly after the motoring journalist was effectively sacked, with the Beeb refusing to renew his contract.

Co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond also left, with Andy Wilman – producer and longtime pal of Jazza – following suit amid rumours they would essential remake the show elsewhere.

How bizarre then that months later the BBC should announce a deal with someone called Chris Evans, who will lead the show for three years amid an all new lineup. Commenting on the matter, Evans gushed:

“I’m thrilled, Top Gear is my favourite programme of all time. Created by a host of brilliant minds who love cars and understand how to make the massively complicated come across as fun, devil-may-care and effortless.”

Well at least we know he has a talent for U-turns…

Header Image – Top Gear BMW 330d at Silverstone, September 2007 by Colin Eric

Podcast (Ep.1) | Cameron’s Europe, Labour Leadership and Owen Jones on YouTube

The Right Dishonourable Podcast Ep 1 Pic

Welcome to our first foray into ACTUAL podcasting.

Sit back, relax and have a chuckle as Jimmy and Jazza learn to walk again. We talk about David Cameron being a little bit embarrassing as he visits all his bezzie-mates in the EU ahead of the referendum, the shit-storm that is the Labour leadership between Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall, and why the hell everyone seems to have a YouTube channel these days. (We’re looking at you Owen Jones!)

As women struggle in Hollywood, Melissa McCarthy’s Spy believes in better

Melissa McCarthy at Academy Awards 2012, Mingle Media TV

If you buy a ticket to Spy you’re raising the finger to Hollywood studios who’ve been too lazy for too long when it comes to developing female heroes.

This film comes at an important juncture, following the embarrassing anti-feminist boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as a climate of internet hate aimed at the Marvel Cinematic Universe because of problematic female characters in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Mary Creagh quits Labour leadership bid, cussing ‘anti-business’ mindset

Mary Creagh MP in Parliament, Shlurder

The weeks since Ed Miliband’s thrashing at the polls have seen a whittling down of potential leaders from six (mostly) Blairite hopefuls to a mere four – plus, er, Jeremy Corbyn.

With the departure of Mary Creagh, who will announce in Saturday’s Guardian the groundbreaking news she won’t be succeeding Red Ed, the field has narrowed even further, the previous two quitters being Tristram Hunt (who quit when he realised he was called Tristram) and Chuka Umunna (who somehow failed to notice that the Tory press can get a bit nosy about the private lives of Labour politicians).

The move leaves former health secretary Andy Burnham facing former work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper and the MP Liz Kendall, but only goes to reinforce how much the Blairite analysis of the general election has dominated the debate over Labour’s future.

Creagh’s piece for the Grauniad is worth reading in full, but for the lazy the key passage is here:

Labour must want big business to succeed – it’s where many of the jobs are – but pay and conditions must be fair. And Labour must want small business to succeed: it’s where innovation and creative thinking take place. All big businesses started out small. But dividing them into “producers” or “predators” alienates businesses, large and small.

Elsewhere in the piece Creagh rambles on about inequality and Labour’s rather churlish flip in favour of the inevitable EU referendum. Unfortunately for the likes of Corbyn the bleating about “aspiration”, or to use Creagh’s lame coinage “bootstrap Britain” has now drowned out any other concerns in the allegedly centre-left party.

Cray cray, indeed.

Header Image – Mary Creagh in Parliament by Shlurder

Christopher Lee: Au Revoir Charlemagne

Christopher Lee, Two Towers Signing, Jan 2008, Danacea

Christopher Lee, actor, author and heavy metal singer, died at 8.30am on Sunday 7th June at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.

Born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, the prolific actor would end his career having been knighted in 2009 for services to drama and charity, and awarded the Bafta fellowship two year later. The Second World War veteran was an icon to many generations over his 70 year career, in which he put together a diverse portfolio.

Lee first became a household name with a series of horror films from Hammer Film Productions, most notably 1958’s Dracula. From there he moved on the The Wicker Man, the James Bond franchise and in later life to Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, in which he played the wizard Saruman.

Among his other 206 movie roles were plenty of lesser-known gigs, including five Tim Burton movies, and portrayals of both Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. He even appeared in sixteen video games.

As the film tally implies, Lee never retired. Still to be released is the fantasy film Angels in Notting Hill, in which he plays a god figure. At the time of his death he was preparing to star in a 9/11 drama opposite Uma Thurman, due to begin filming in November.

In later years, Lee also released five separate heavy metal LPs and EPs, most notably his Charlemagne concept albums. Far from a late life crisis, 2010’s Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross received the “Spirit of Metal” award at the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden God awards.

Since Lee’s death tributes have poured in from across the world. Tony Iommi, the Black Sabbath guitarist, shared a picture of the two together in a tweet, saying: “So sad to hear about the loss of Sir Christopher Lee. The man was truly a legend.”

Former The Man with the Golden Gun co-star Roger Moore also wrote on the social network: “It’s terrible when you lose an old friend, and Christopher Lee was one of my oldest. We first met in 1948.”

Above all Lee was a wryly humorous man. His autobiography tells of a movie sword fight with Errol Flynn that left his little finger scarred and misshapen. Years later, he got revenge when he managed the ‘extremely difficult sword stunt’ of swiping Flynn’s wig off on a TV show.

Lee is survived by his wife of 54 years, Birgit, and his daughter, Christina.

Header Image – Christopher Lee at Forbidden Planet New Oxford Street, January 2008 by Danacea