Archive for August 23rd, 2011
John Howard Davies, who produced a string of comedy classics including Fawlty Towers and The Good Life, has died aged 72, his agent has confirmed.Davies was head of comedy at the BBC from 1977 to 1982, launching classic shows such as Only Fools and Horses, Yes Minister and Allo, Allo!
The son of a comedy writer, he found fame as a child actor, making his debut as David Lean’s Oliver Twist in 1948.Davies died yesterday morning at his home in Blewbury, Oxfordshire.His son William Davies said: “My father had an absolutely extraordinary career, was unfailingly supportive as a parent and will be greatly missed. He died surrounded by his family.”After various non-TV jobs, Davies joined the BBC as a production assistant in 1966.His most notable contribution in the early days was producing the first four episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus 1969-74 with Ian McNaughton.He went on to produce The Goodies and Steptoe and Son before briefly leaving the BBC in the early 1970s, returning a year later.Davies went on to produce the now classic Fawlty Towers and the entire run of The Good Life, which ran from 1975 to 1978.
EIGHTEEN MONTHS TO GO. And now some nights Nima Arkani-Hamed can’t sleep. Because in eighteen months someone will flip a switch in something called the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. And when that switch is flipped, billions of protons will fly around a seventeen-mile loop at nearly the speed of light until they smash together hard, harder than any subatomic particles have ever been smashed together on earth. It’s the greatest, most anticipated, most expensive experiment in the history of mankind. And if Arkani-Hamed is right, it could help prove that the laws that govern the universe at every scale–from the smallest quarks to the largest black holes–are one and the same. Or else, of course, it could prove that Arkani-Hamed is full of shit.
IT’S A FOOL’S ERRAND, this quest for a theory of everything. And Arkani-Hamed is only the most recent of thousands of theoretical physicists to embark on it. The idea seemed logical enough when Einstein first set out on it in the 1920s. If general relativity explains the universe from afar–why gravity pulls the earth around the sun–and quantum mechanics explains the world up close–how atoms, protons, and neutrons react to electromagnetism and the strong and weak forces–surely there must be a way to put the two theories together. After all, whether cosmic in size or minuscule, the particles and forces that govern our universe were all born at the same primordial moment. Yet Einstein failed. And in the interim, armies of physicists, equipped with similarly well-intentioned yet ultimately faulty or unprovable ideas, have followed him to the same well-trod dead end.
Teenager cleared of setting fire to Miss Selfridge during Manchester riots | UK news | guardian.co.uk
A teenager who spent nine days in prison after being charged with setting fire to Miss Selfridge during the Manchester riots has been cleared after new evidence emerged confirming his innocence.
Dane Williamson, 18, said he had had a nightmarish ordeal after he was charged with being involved in causing £500,000 damage to the Market Street store during the riots, despite having five alibis.
He was charged with criminal damage and being reckless over property damage or endangering life. His name was widely reported and Facebook groups were set up on which he was identified and subjected to abuse.
Williamson’s flat in Salford was damaged by fire while he was on remand in Forest Bank prison; he lost all of his possessions and is now homeless. He suffered panic attacks after he was targeted by other prisoners who taunted him about what he had supposedly done.
A 50-year-old man has since been arrested in connection with the incident but Greater Manchester police say they are still searching for those who started the fire.
During his time on remand, Williamson said, he was called a firebug, told by prison staff he would be jailed for life, and initially locked up for 23 hours a day as a category A prisoner.
His solicitor, Kerry Morgan, criticised the judicial system for pursuing instant justice so much it resulted in an innocent man being locked up.
Williamson, who has spent much of his life in care and has two previous convictions, told the Manchester Evening News: “Being in Forest Bank was horrible. I had heard my name all over the radio. In prison I was being treated as if I was already guilty. It was quite scary and an experience I don’t want to repeat.
“I was in there for nine days, 23 hours a day locked up in a cell. I was categorised as a category A prisoner at first then reduced to category B. I had a lot of snide comments from officers about the arson, like: ‘You’re that firebug,’ ‘You’re gonna get time for this,’ and ‘They’re gonna put you in Strangeways.’”
He added: “The worst thing that was said was: ‘You’re getting life and you’re scum.’ They must have told other prisoners because some would flick their fingers like a lighter in my face.
“I was going through hell. I was depressed. I was having panic attacks. The stress was awful. I feared I was going to get convicted for something I didn’t do, which potentially carried a life sentence.
Jani Lane, the flaxen-haired former lead singer for the heavy metal band Warrant who wrote its 1990 hit “Cherry Pie” and other anthems, was found dead on Thursday in a hotel room near his home in Los Angeles. He was 47.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said it had not yet determined a cause, but Mr. Lane’s manager, Obi Steinman, said the death was alcohol-related. Mr. Lane had struggled with alcohol, he said.
Warrant exemplified the hair metal scene of the late 1980s and early ’90s, and Mr. Lane was its keening frontman. The band’s first album, “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich,” went double platinum after its release in 1989 on the strength of power-chord-heavy tracks like “Down Boys” and saccharine ballads like “Heaven,” both written by Mr. Lane.
Warrant is probably best known for the title track on 1990’s “Cherry Pie,” which also went double platinum, selling more than two million copies. The song, a campy, misogynistic tale of a sexual liaison interrupted by a livid father, still resonates with fans today, as does its accompanying video featuring a scantily clad model.