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Thursday 28 December 2023

Interview with Sir David Attenborough and Executive Producer Mike Gunton - Attenborough and the Giant Sea Monster

In "Attenborough and the Giant Sea Monster," Sir David Attenborough takes on the intriguing task of exploring a once-in-a-lifetime discovery – a colossal skull unearthed from the cliffs of Dorset. Enter the world of the pliosaur, the marine counterpart to the Tyrannosaurus rex!

Discover the story of the pliosaur, an extraordinary monster of the seas, on BBC One and iPlayer

What is this film about?
David Attenborough: This film is about the discovery of the skull of an extraordinary monster of the seas – one of the biggest predators the world has ever seen. The skull is the most important part of an animal, and what you can deduce from the skull is absolutely fascinating.

Imagine that you were from Mars, and when you landed on Earth all you could find were human skeletons but not a single one with a skull. You wouldn't know anything about it at all - you wouldn't know what it fed on, how it could move, you wouldn't know what it could see - it would be useless.

Well, that is more or less was the situation we were in as far as this particular pliosaur was concerned. The skull had the potential to be the most informative find of any pliosaur ever made but unfortunately, or initially unfortunately, it was only the end tip of this huge skull that was found. But the skull is the most informative part of any skeleton, and it promised to have all those details in it if you could only get it out…

This is the story of how it was got out, and how it was examined by scientists with all kinds of latest state-of-the-art equipment to investigate these things, how they were able to interpret it and tell us new things about pliosaurs.

For people who may not be familiar with the idea of a pliosaur, can you say what is it and how much we know about it?

David: Well, we know a lot about ichthyosaurs, but this was a great hunter of the ichthyosaurs, and it's called a pliosaur – an immense animal that ruled the seas during the period of the dinosaurs.

It could obviously move at great speed and the teeth that were found in the tip of the skull have vertical ridges down them, which break the suction and allow it to withdraw the jaw from prey quickly  - that's the sort of deduction that we're able to make and which we show in the programme.

Do you remember how you first heard about this?

David: Yes, I've been passionate about collecting fossils since I was a kid and I've never given it up. In consequence I know a number of the collectors and people who live on the Jurassic Coast. One of them, Chris Moore, is a long-time friend, and he got in touch with us and said there's going to be a remarkable discovery that this thing had been found. I immediately rang up Mike and said, "we ought to be doing this". Fortunately the BBC was able to do so - when the BBC decides that it wants to act, it can act very swiftly and very effectively. And we had a crew down there before you knew where you were.

Mike Gunton: You're absolutely right about the speed because we heard about it we heard they're going to have to excavate this thing in the next week. So we had to scramble, we had to get it commissioned, we had to get everybody's involvement, we had to get the crew together, not to mention the really difficult conditions which required health and safety. But nevertheless, within six days we were there!

David: It looked as though it was going to be one of the most complete skeletons ever found. The head was only part of it, and that was up in the cliffs. And the body itself, being about the size of a London bus, extends into the cliff. The decision had to be taken that we would go for the skull, because that is where all the information lies. The rest of it probably has to be there but it's 30, 40 feet long, so at the moment we are concentrating on the head, the skull, the most important part.

In terms of the actual excavation, how much of a challenge was it to excavate the skull?

David: Well, it weighs over half a tonne. That's a pretty heavy thing to handle. Now, you have to get it out from half way up the face of a tall cliff which itself is crumbling away, and if you drop it and break it, it is a major catastrophe. I mean, you will have lost a lot of information. So the problem we see in the first part of the program was about is how on earth do you go around getting this out?

They only had a certain length of time because the storms of summer were on the way and fortunately at that time the weather was sunny enough for the team to start working immediately. But they knew that in two or three weeks' time there was going to be a rainstorm and that could have ruined everything, so they were working against the clock and it was that drama of actually getting it out, the sheer mechanical drama of extracting this thing which occupies the first section of the film. You feel the tension as the people are trying to get it out, and do it safely.

Then there are safety people there and they could see that the weather was changing and they said, "if you don't get it out in the next 24 hours, you've got to withdraw because it's not safe."

Mike: Yes, and the rain can erode the rock quite quickly, and the whole thing could just fall to the ground, it would be in thousands of pieces and that's a big old jigsaw to try to put back together again, so it was very urgent!

We've talked a bit about the restoration process and obviously it's a labour of love for Steve [Etches] and his team. Steve himself has done an incredible job of preparing the skull for scientific assessment. But how important is that role of the preparator for fossils?

David: Incredibly important. It's so easy to destroy what you're looking for. That's the problem when you are preparing this kind of fossil. How far can you go down before you've actually destroyed what it is you are looking for?

Mike: Steve when he uses this air abrasion, he's so sensitive, he's like a surgeon. It's a very, very sensitive skill to have. It's rather remarkable to watch actually. As David says, get it wrong, you destroy information that has been waiting for you for 150 million years.  It's  a  particular  type  of  person  who  has  the  patience  and  the  skills  to  do  it and Steve  is  one.

So,  David,  what  were  your  first  impressions  of  the  whole  skull  when  you  saw  it  for  the  first  time?

David: Oh,  no  question  about  that. That  is  one of the  biggest  skulls  you've  ever  seen.  I  mean,  it's  huge  and  so  although  I  was  aware  of  the  tip  that  was  first  discovered, I  hadn't  fully  appreciated  how  big  the  whole  head  would  be  and  it's  enormous.  So  sheer  scale  was  what  first impressed me.

But then I talked to the scientists who knew about this particular group of fossils, and pointed out to me the little details, the little pores, sensory pits. There is also the parietal eye – in some animals, including this one, it seems there is a primitive eye in the top of the head. Think of a crocodile in the middle, between the eyes at the top.

It could have told you which way was up, if you were down in the deep sea - that's  the  sort  of  detail  which  we  weren't  sure  about  but  which  this  skull  has  already  given  us more information  about.

Mike: My  recollection  was  that  Steve  said how unusual it is to get a skull that is not disarticulated, in other words, you finding it as it would have been in life. I don't know, but that's rare and that would have been exceptional, wouldn't it.

David: Well I mean the thing about the skull is that it's not only by far the most informative part of the body, it is by far the most delicate too. And it's the detail, and that is so rare to find it. And this is as near perfect as it can possibly get.

Mike: One of the scientists, Andre [Rowe], he says it's a one in a million, no!, one in a billion fossil….

Thinking about the science a little bit now, how closely did the team collaborate with the scientific community and experts during the making of this programme?

David: They can tell us all kinds of things. There's  an  American  expert,  Dr Andre,  and  he  was  blown  away  by  it.  He  said, "it  was  the  most  terrifying  animal  in  the  seas".

I  asked  him  perhaps  a  rather  childish  question because  it  was  very  big,  and  it's  bigger  than  the  Tyrannosaurus  rex  by  long  way, so  I  asked  this  schoolboy  question, I  said,  "Now,  supposing  Tyrannosaurus  rex met  this  extraordinary  pliosaur, who  would  win?"  And  this  chap  was  American and  Tyrannosaurus  Rex  is  an  American  dinosaur, so I expected his answer to be that. He said, "Well,  I  think  it  probably  was  this  pliosaur that  won."

Other  scientists  told  us  that  it's  almost  certainly  a  new  species  of  pliosaur.

So  it's  a  new  species,  and  it  would  have  been  able  to  deal  with  Tyrannosaurus rex  straight  up in a fight.  So  what  more  do  you  want?

Mike: One  of  the  things  that  was  interesting  about  that  deduction  you  made,   one  of  the  things  I  thought  was  fascinating  was  the  power  of  the  jaws, the  bite  force.  I  mean,  I  think  you  were  saying,  you  wouldn't  want  to  meet  one!

David: OhI  would  like  to  meet  one,  I  must  say.  But  if it  was  on  the  other  side  of  a  river…

The CT scan revealed a network of blood vessels and nerves, were you surprised by that level of detail?

David: Well yes there was the University of Bristol and Southampton, the two of them have apparatus which enables you to extract that sort of information. To actually see inside is extraordinary. There  are very few pieces of apparatus that  can  do  that.

How much has that technology helped us to understand more about the lives of prehistoric animals in recent years?

David: The ability to see through stone matrix is extraordinary. We  are,  I  suppose,  accustomed  to  seeing  X-rays  of  our  own  bodies,  but  to  do  it  from  a  great  lump  of  stone!  If  you've  got  some sort of  medical  problem  they  could  do  it  in  two  or  three  minutes  of  exposure,  but  this  took  five days or something.  It was  a  great privilege.

The  seas  were  full  of  monsters,  which  we  really  had  very  little  information  about.  But  this  is  the  first  time  that  the  pliosaur,  this  enormous  great  creature, a  ferocious  creature,  which must  have been among the  biggest, most  powerful  carnivorous  creatures  in  the  seas... How  that  must have appeared  at  the  time  is  a  wonderful  thing  to  ponder  upon  and  I  hope  that  the  programme  ends  with  us  doing  just  that,  because  of  course  these  days  with  Computer  Generated  Imaging  we  can  take information  from  scientists  that  tell  us  about  speed, that  tell  us  about  how  they  moved, their flippers in all sorts of deductive ways and putting all that together in order for you to be able to produce an image that is really convincing of a monster this size that once roamed the seas of this planet is really very exciting.

Mike: There's that extra level of I think of being in the ocean, I think you're right David, I love dinosaurs, but the idea they're in the ocean is an extra level of mystery and fear, like a great white shark today.

You touched there upon Computer Generated Images.  David  do  you  feel  seeing  those  really  brings  us  the monster to life?

David:   Oh  yes.  I  mean  this  isn't  the  first  time  that  we've  had  computer  generated  imaging.  I've  worked  on  dinosaurs  before, but  there's  a  sort  of  double  whammy  in  this  one  because  not  only  are  you  doing  that  but  you're  doing  it  on  something  that's  only  just  been  discovered. So it's really saying something new and exciting and dramatic.

We were talking about the sea monster being one of the greatest predators the world has ever seen. What made it an apex predator?

David: The facts are dramatic enough that you don't need to build up pictures with words, I mean, here is a thing the size of a London bus, moving  faster  than anything  you  can  imagine of that size, with huge jaws, armed with these extraordinary teeth, which was able to tear apart the ichthyosaurs - there's  no  creature  alive  today  in  any  way  comparable  to  this  enormous  carnivorous  giant. That's  what  sets  your  imagination  alight  when  you  think  about  it..  And  of  course,  the  scientists  themselves  are  as  thrilled  about  it,  perhaps  even  more  than  you  will  be. It's their lifetimes  work,  isn't  it?  It's  a  dream  of  a  lifetime.

Mike: It's got bizarre flippers too hasn't it? Luke Muscutt made a model…

David: Yes he  had  a  radio-controlled  model  in  a  very  big  tank  and  he  was  able  to  deduce  that  the  closest  locomotory action that we can see on the planet today is of a penguin. This immense creature moved its limbs in the same sort of way that a penguin does.

The pliosaur has one set of flippers at the front and one set at the back, and the scientist  pointed  out  that  it's like geese  when  they  fly,  and  other  birds  that migrate in flocks – they fly one  behind  the  other so they can exploit the turbulence and save energy. This is what the pliosaur does by having two flippers one behind the other.

And you mentioned you were able to use the remote controlled device?

David: Oh yes I was able to play with it! Yes, that was self-indulgent.

Sir David Attenborough smiles as he sits next to a Humboldt Penguin at London Zoo.

What is it about finding a fossil that holds such fascination for you?

David: A very basic curiosity but also a sense of privilege. You can tell in many cases because actually, there is a little brown line on a rock that leads you to believe there is something in there. And you can calculate were you should hit it in order to get it to split! Occasionally, and it's happened to me, occasionally you will see in complete detail that the rock has split along  the  junction  between  a  shell  and  the  mud,  and  it  just  opens,  and  there  it  is,  absolutely  perfect.  It  doesn't  require  any  further  excavation, it  doesn't  require  messing.  There's  this  wonderful  creature that  nobody  has  seen  before  you  in  150  million  years. If you're young or old, it's a joy! I've never got over it really. It's very romantic.  I  mean,  people  talk  about  science,  the  cold,  calculating  eye  of  science,  which  of  course  you  have  to  have, but  it  doesn't  prevent  you  from  having  romance  as  well.

Mike: And it's an excitement and a romance that people with imagination get hooked on. You also have a bit of pride too!

Do you remember the first fossil you found?

David: It's easy to do when you're eight-years-old, you know, it's that little romance which I never lost. I used to go at weekends. The thing is in Leicestershire was that they had Ironstone workings, which were eventually worked out so there were these empty quarries. You could get on your bicycle and ride for 15 miles or so and get lost in this great expanse of rock. All these boulders that nobody had ever hit! You'd think, "surely the next one! If I hit that one I'll find something nobody has seen before!"

It takes a fossil hunter to make a programme like this, and to convince the commissioners that it's worth spending time on. But I'm happy to say that the romance comes over in the programmes. These are the types of programmes people seem to like, and I'm happy to go on making them because it's great fun!

Considering the ground-breaking information given in the programme do you think it will inspire future scientists and researchers interested in palaeontology and prehistoric studies?

David: I think there are still going to be little 10 year olds and 12 year olds going around on bicycles hitting rocks with hammers! Put on glasses – it's very dangerous! I mustn't encourage children, they must wear eye protection! But kids that are being born today will still find that romantic, and not only kids….

Mike: I'd quite like to be a palaeontologist, it must be fascinating,  would you?

David: Well I thought I was going to be a palaeontologist at one stage, but I was thwarted.

Mike: Never too late!

Why is it important we study extinct animals, and what can we learn from them?

David: Knowledge can't  have  a  cash  value.  Facts  don't  have  cash  values.  It's  just  part  of  life.  To  know  your imagination of the different worlds that once existed, it's enriching and makes you more appreciative of the fact that you're alive. The evidence goes back for all these millions of years and that's part of the meaning of life really.

Mike: I think it defines us. It would be tragic if people didn't – it's critical and it speaks to our humanity. Plus it's great fun!

Edith Bowman's Top 5 Hogmanay TV Traditions

Hogmanay holds a special place in the calendar, particularly for television enthusiasts in Scotland, as the night has cultivated its unique set of customs over time.

Edith Bowman, the host of the 2023 Hogmanay festivities spanning BBC Scotland, BBC One Scotland, and BBC iPlayer, shares her insights into the five most cherished Hogmanay TV traditions for viewers enjoying the celebrations from the comfort of their homes.

1. The Company

It's a great time to be with the people you love, the people that make you feel the best version of yourself. That could be a room full of friends, family and neighbours or it could simply be you and your partner…I've had so many different experiences of how, where and who I've spent Hogmanay with. As a wee girl it was at my Grandad's house in Pittenweem, it felt so exciting being allowed to stay up that late to watch the Hogmanay show. I know that for some people at this time they will be on their own and I really hope that with the show we make you feel part of our celebrations, as if we were in the living room with you.

2. Line that stomach

For whatever reason, it's a long night, especially if you are partying into the wee small hours. So make sure you have snacks at the ready for the duration. Have a good tea before you start and if you're lucky, someone will have made stovies for after the bells. If you are completely winning at life, you will be in the vicinity to tuck into Ma Bowman's recipe, simply the best. Never a hangover to be had after a bowl or two of stovies.

3. Ye dancin?

Dance like no one is watching, whether you are out for Hogmanay on the streets of Edinburgh, holed up at a swanky event, or just at home with the telly on there is NOTHING to stop you from busting out your best moves. Push the tables/sofas/crowds aside as our guests on the Hogmanay show are going to make you want to dance your socks off, from Scottish singing legend KT Tunstall to the amazing Celtic rock phenomenon that is Skerryvore and Scottish folk inspired sounds from the Kinnaris Quintet.

4. Cheers

I am sure you will have had a few wee aperitifs in the course of the evening. There will have been moments to savour throughout the night's viewing, when you are cradling a glass. I'm expecting some cracking chat from our Hogmanay guests Brian Cox, Sharon Rooney, Mark Bonnar and Scott McTominay. But this is the big one, so make sure you have a glass of something charged – it doesn't need to be alcohol - and be ready to toast as the lone piper on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle starts the countdown to 2024.

5. Auld Lang Syne

It's the LAW, It's the beating heart of Hogmanay, the only piece of music to start a new year. It will touch your heart one moment – possibly even a wee tear – and then have you jigging like there is no tomorrow.

Auld Lang Syne – Rabbie Burns knew a thing or two about getting us all going – and the fantastic rendition this year will be from Skerryvore with Shereen Cutkelvin on vocals. What more can I say except :"Happy New Year!"

Saturday 23 December 2023

Unwrapping Mystery and Mischief: A Festive Puzzle Unfolds in the Beyond Paradise Christmas Special!

As the Christmas countdown commences in the quaint town of Shipton Abbott, a series of peculiar burglaries leaves residents baffled and on edge. Join DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) and DS Esther Williams (Zahra Ahmadi) as they dive into the mystery of these unconventional break-ins in the "Beyond Paradise Christmas Special," a holiday episode that has the town abuzz with curiosity.

Intriguingly, the burglaries aren't your typical smash-and-grab scenarios. The detectives find themselves at a loss, armed with only a mysterious pile of ash at each crime scene. As they attempt to crack the case, the pressure mounts with CS Charlie Woods (Jade Harrison) and Police HQ closely monitoring their every move. Will the small station team prove their worth, or is the beloved station in danger of closure?

While Office Support Margo Martins (Felicity Montagu) adds a festive touch to the station office, PC Kelby Hartford (Dylan Llewellyn) finds himself tasked with an unexpected duty – babysitting a mischievous young shoplifter who goes by the name of Rishi Sunak, adding a dose of humor to the investigation.

Amidst the Christmas market festivities, Esther's teenage daughter, Zoe (Melina Sinadinou), reluctantly embraces the holiday spirit by working in Santa's Grotto dressed as an elf. And as the town buzzes with seasonal cheer, Martha (Sally Bretton) finds herself contemplating the future during a chance encounter that could hold significant implications for her and Humphrey.

This holiday episode of "Beyond Paradise" is brimming with talent, featuring James Fleet, Amalia Vitale, Kulvinder Ghir, Sheila Reid, Chris Jenks, Eva Feiler, and Bellowhead. Get ready for a delightful blend of mystery, mischief, and Christmas magic. 

Interview with Ralf Little (DI Neville Parker) - Death in Paradise Christmas Special

There was a lot for Neville to deal with towards the end of last series, how has he coped with moving on from 'Sophie'?

With difficulty. He's obviously extremely hurt and bruised by it and mistrustful of people and the concept of romance and love. He's extremely jaded. He feels like maybe it's just not for him and that for some people, it just doesn't work for them. We join him this series very much feeling like he's one of those people and this is all just something he should give up on or he'll just get hurt again, over and over. We join him broken by the whole experience and ready to give up on the idea of loving at all.

Neville's mum Melanie, played by Doon Mackichan, comes over to visit at Christmas and is quite the opposite of Neville. She's gregarious, fun, loving and seizes the moment and the day. She just lives life to enjoy herself and she's the first person that gives Neville a bit of a pep talk and says, "Look, don't give up on something just because it's hard." It's not that he just snaps out of it and that solves everything, but it's the first time we see him told and that's sort of the start of his road to emotional recovery.

What can you tell us about this year's Christmas special?

A man has fallen into a ravine and a witness, Debbie (Bronagh Waugh), who is on holiday from the UK to visit some clients, goes missing. Her partner, Dave (Youssef Kerkour), has stayed home and when he hears she's gone missing, he's determined to find her.

What was it like working with some of the guest cast in this special?

I've been a fan of Doon Mackichan's for years. We cross paths with a lot of people in this industry but we never get to spend proper time together. It was weird because, before I came out to Guadeloupe this time, I was watching Knowing Me, Knowing You… with Alan Partridge again. That's how long I've been a fan of Doon's for. I think I was fourteen when that first came out. She's always been a hero of mine, so then for her to come out and say, "Oh, I'm so glad to be doing this with you"… I was like, "Are you kidding? This is a dream for me!".

She was, predictably, absolutely brilliant. I felt like our chemistry on screen was great and her chemistry with √Člizabeth Bourgine, who plays Catherine Bordey, was fabulous. She was so fun, lovely, professional, talented… love her! What a joy.

Patsy Kensit is an old mate of mine. We've worked together before, and I hadn't seen her for about twenty years! So, it was really fun to be like, "Hey, how are you doing?" and catch up. And Patsy of course, she's a legend. Patsy's had a long career and worked at the very, very top and it wouldn't be out of the realms of possibility for her to be a bit of a diva, a bit difficult – but not even a fraction. She's just the loveliest, nicest, easy-going person to work with.

What do you think Christmas with Neville would be like?

I think there's two versions. 'Then Neville' would have said that his favourite Christmas was a couple of pints down the local in the afternoon after a nice Christmas lunch made by his mum or his other half – not that he's not capable, but that's probably what he would be used to. Very traditional.

However, there's a 'now Neville' and he's out here in the Caribbean and has had a couple of Christmases here, spent with people on the beach drinking rum and eating lobster and other traditional Saint Marie cuisine. He's been on a journey and at first, he didn't like it, but now I think he loves it. I think his idea of what his perfect Christmas would be has now evolved. He's legitimately changed. And it's not just that he can now sort of deal with things, but he's had his eyes opened to new experiences and with some of them he's like, "this is who I want to be now". That's an incredible journey for a character to go on.

That would be Neville's perfect Christmas. Spent at Catherine's bar. Maybe he still wants the same food, but with a few extra Caribbean influences. He wants to be by the beach with a loved one and with friends.

How are you spending Christmas this year?

My family are all over the place – in Liverpool, Devon… Who knows where I'll be! My brother is a doctor and my sister is a nurse, so it's dependent on their schedules. If we can all get together, then that's what we're going to do and whatever happens, you can guarantee I'll be doing the cooking. I really enjoy it. It's a lot. It's an undertaking, but I love it. I'm like, "I'll cook as long as you all clean!".

Get Ready for a Sun-Soaked Festive Whodunit in Death in Paradise Christmas Special!

The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with a trip to the picturesque Saint Marie for the Death in Paradise Christmas special. Join the beloved police team in a feature-length episode that promises intrigue, laughter, and a touch of Caribbean sun.

The festive fun takes a mysterious turn when Gerry Stableforth, a family man and entrepreneur played by Geoff Bell, is discovered lifeless in a ravine. His grieving family, including wife Bella (Patsy Kensit), children Benjamin (Freddy Carter) and Mariana (Amelia Clarkson), and niece Riley (Leila Khan), are left stunned. DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little), DS Naomi Thomas (Shantol Jackson), Officer Marlon Pryce (Tahj Miles), and Trainee Officer Darlene Curtis (Ginny Holder) dive into the investigation, unraveling the enigma behind Gerry's death.

As the plot thickens, the family's digital marketing guru, Debbie Clumson (Bronagh Waugh), vanishes without a trace, adding an extra layer of complexity to the case. Debbie's partner, the determined Dave (Youssef Kerkour), embarks on a quest to uncover the truth about her disappearance.

Amidst the investigative chaos, Neville's vivacious mum, Melanie (Doon Mackichan), jets off to Saint Marie for a sunny Christmas with her son. A burgeoning friendship with Catherine Bordey (√Člizabeth Bourgine) adds a delightful twist to the island's dating scene. However, Melanie has some heartfelt advice for Neville, who grapples with the idea that love might be elusive for him.

Taking cues from Neville's mum, DS Naomi Thomas endeavors to strike a balance between work and personal life. But as the Christmas party approaches, will her attempt at self-discovery lead to awkward moments with a close friend? And could Neville be the unintentional party pooper at Commissioner Selwyn Patterson's (Don Warrington) grand Christmas lights switch-on?

Don't miss the Death in Paradise Christmas Special on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on December 26th at 9 pm. Get ready for a festive treat that blends mystery, humor, and the idyllic backdrop of Saint Marie!

Uncovering Scandal: Sky News Documentaries Presents "Untouchable: Inside the Red Arrows"

Prepare for a gripping exploration into the dark side of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), renowned as the Red Arrows. Sky News Documentaries takes viewers on a compelling journey in a one-hour film titled "Untouchable: Inside the Red Arrows," shedding light on issues of sexual harassment, sleaze, and bullying within this iconic squadron.

In a groundbreaking expose, victims of the toxic culture within the Red Arrows speak out exclusively to Sky News, breaking their silence on the scandal that has tarnished a national treasure. Voiced by Sky News Security and Defence Editor, Deborah Haynes, the documentary unveils the stories of four former members who provide a firsthand account of the predatory behavior prevailing in the world-famous aerobatic display squadron.

For the first time, these victims, whose identities are safeguarded through actors, share their experiences before and after a Royal Air Force investigation uncovered widespread and normalized unacceptable behaviors within the Red Arrows.

Despite the air chiefs' attempt to bring closure to the crisis with a non-statutory inquiry published in November, the victims decry it as a travesty of justice. Their critique centers on the lack of transparency, as they have not even received an unredacted version of their own evidence.

In "Untouchable," three women and one man raise alarming concerns about the toxic culture's impact on flight safety. Shockingly, one victim reveals that the RAF contemplated grounding the Red Arrows last year. With skepticism about the air force's commitment to implementing promised changes, the victims urge others who have experienced unacceptable behaviors across the armed forces to come forward.

The RAF's inquiry focused on the period between 2017 and 2021. In response, the air force asserts its dedication to transforming the culture within the squadron, introducing new training initiatives and leadership approaches.

Don't miss the premiere of "Untouchable: Inside the Red Arrows" on Wednesday, December 27th, at 9 pm on Sky News. Tune in on Freeview channel 233, Virgin 603, BT 313, or Sky 501, as this powerful documentary exposes the unsettling truths behind the legendary Red Arrows.

Get Ready for Big Laughs: Award-Winning Comedy "Big Boys" Returns to Channel 4 in January 2024 with an Exciting Twist!

Fans of Jack Rooke's uproarious comedy are in for a treat as the critically acclaimed series, produced by Roughcut TV, makes its triumphant return to Channel 4 in January 2024. Brace yourselves for more hilarious moments and unexpected twists as the second season promises to deliver even bigger laughs and unforgettable characters.

Joining the talented cast is Marc Warren (known for "Van Der Valk"), who steps into the role of Dennis, Danny's Dad. Louisa Harland, famous for her role in "Derry Girls," takes on the character of Kerry, while Madelyn Smedley from "The Traitors" adds a fresh perspective as the newcomer Sally. These new additions join the stellar ensemble of Dylan Llewellyn, Jon Pointing, Camille Coduri, Katy Wix, Izuka Hoyle, Olisa Odele, Harriet Webb, and Annette Badland, all reprising their roles from the first season.

In this highly anticipated second season, the gang navigates the challenges of their second year at Brent University in 2014. From addressing virginity hang-ups to experimenting with both legal and not-so-legal substances, the laughs keep coming. This time, their academic pursuits take center stage as their degrees become a focal point of the narrative.

As the students face new challenges, Jack's family also undergo significant changes, grappling with life after the passing of his Dad. Simultaneously, Danny delves into his past, working to better manage his mental health issues.

"Big Boys" is the brainchild of Jack Rooke, who serves as both the creator and writer. The series is directed by Jim Archer, produced by Bertie Peek, and executive produced by Ash Atalla and Alex Smith for Roughcut TV. Channel 4 has once again commissioned this comedic gem, with Charlie Perkins, Head of Comedy, and Joe Hullait, Commissioning Executive for Comedy, at the helm.

If you haven't experienced the hilarity of "Big Boys" yet, now's the perfect time to catch up! Season one is available to stream on Channel 4, setting the stage for the riotous antics that await in the upcoming second season. Don't miss out on the laughter – mark your calendars for January 2024!

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Ring in 2024 with a Musical Extravaganza: Rick Astley and Friends at BBC One's New Year’s Eve Rocks

Get ready for a sensational New Year's Eve celebration as pop legend Rick Astley takes the stage alongside the incredible talents of Sharleen Spiteri, Rylan, and The House Gospel Choir at BBC One's New Year's Eve Rocks. The iconic Roundhouse will serve as the backdrop for this star-studded event, promising an unforgettable evening to bid farewell to 2023.

Rick Astley, known for his chart-topping 1980s hit "Never Gonna Give You Up," will enchant the audience with a performance featuring some of his greatest hits and a selection of his favorite songs, ranging from contemporary smash hits to timeless classics. Joined by the dynamic Texas frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri, beloved TV star and Radio 2 presenter Rylan, and the soul-stirring House Gospel Choir, Rick Astley is set to create a musical experience like no other.

Produced by BBC Studios Entertainment, this New Year's Eve Rocks promises to be the perfect grand finale to 2023. Rick Astley, who recently delivered a triumphant set at Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage, covering hits like Harry Styles' "As It Was" and AC/DC's "Highway To Hell," will once again captivate audiences with his infectious energy and timeless tunes.

The festivities kick off at 11:30 pm on Sunday, December 31st, on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. The party will continue even after the fireworks, ensuring a spectacular start to the new year at 12:10 am. Don't miss the chance to join Rick Astley and friends for a night of music, joy, and celebration as we welcome 2024 in style.

Filming is underway on Inside No. 9 series nine

Prepare for the ultimate rollercoaster of wit, mystery, and macabre humor as filming commences for the ninth and final series of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton's acclaimed anthology, Inside No. 9. BBC Studios Comedy Productions brings this eagerly awaited series, consisting of six 30-minute episodes, to BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in 2024. Today, we get a sneak peek into the stellar cast set to grace the screen, accompanied by a captivating first look image.

Leading the ensemble in this farewell series are Dorothy Atkinson, Mark Bonnar, Charlie Cooper, Philippa Dunne, Siobhan Finneran, Joel Fry, Katherine Kelly, Matthew Kelly, Eddie Marsan, Vinette Robinson, Adrian Scarborough, Hayley Squires, Susan Wokoma, and more.

As tradition dictates, each of the six stand-alone stories will unfold in distinct locations, showcasing Shearsmith and Pemberton's unparalleled storytelling prowess. Fans can anticipate being lured into the duo's extraordinary world, where the style and tone change with each passing week.

Since its inception in 2014, Inside No. 9 has garnered widespread acclaim and a trove of awards, including the 2021 BAFTA TV Award for Best Scripted Comedy. It holds the record as BBC Two's longest-running comedy, consistently ranking as one of the channel's most popular shows.

Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton share their bittersweet sentiments: "It is with mixed emotions that we announce we have started filming the final series of Inside No. 9. We take the finest ingredients (stellar casts and creatives) and blend them with our secret recipe to produce unique confections that are delicious and often deadly."

Jon Petrie, Director of BBC Comedy, reflects on the duo's legacy: "Inside No. 9 will be hugely missed, but this final series promises to be a treat for all their avid fans." Josh Cole, Head of Comedy at BBC Studios Productions, adds, "There is something so special about this show, and we will miss making it more than words can say."

All 55 previous episodes of Inside No. 9 are currently available on BBC iPlayer. Series nine is slated to premiere on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in Spring 2024. Stay tuned for more updates on this iconic series' grand finale.

Unraveling the Enigma: BBC Sounds Explores The Mystery of Mount Stewart with Kerri Quinn

Embark on a journey to the past as BBC Sounds unveils a gripping three-part podcast series delving into the mysterious events surrounding the sinking of a boat on Strangford Lough in April 1895. In "The Mystery of Mount Stewart," accomplished actor Kerri Quinn takes on the role of investigator, retracing the ill-fated boat's path to unravel the enigma that unfolded that tragic day.

Known for her current role in the police drama Hope Street, Kerri Quinn steps into the world of radio for the first time, bringing her emotive prowess to capture the essence of this historical puzzle. Reflecting on the uniqueness of radio, Quinn notes, "It's all about the voice. You have to capture the mystery of what's being said."

The story unfolds around Lady Londonderry, the influential political figure of 1895, who, for a brief period each year, held court at Mount Stewart house on the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down. Offering her personal sailing boat as a treat, tragedy strikes when the boat carrying eight individuals, including esteemed servants, disappears without a trace.

The podcast delves into the lives of those on board, from head cook Eliza Taunt to house steward Joseph Grainge, showcasing how they transcended their roles as servants to become friends in the eyes of Lady Londonderry and her husband. The unsolved mystery, coupled with the impact on the Londonderry family and Theresa's political aspirations, forms the backdrop of this compelling narrative.

As the bodies begin to surface over time, the series explores the profound stories behind the lives lost, unraveling the threads of tragedy and shedding light on what transpired at the Mount Stewart estate.

Don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in this captivating tale. Tune in to all three episodes of "The Mystery of Mount Stewart" starting December 23 on BBC Sounds, with the first episode airing at 1.05pm on BBC Radio Ulster on the same date. The unknown awaits, and the answers may finally come to light.

Martin Compston's Norwegian Fling Takes Viewers on a Nordic Adventure in 2024

Get ready for a thrilling Nordic escapade as Martin Compston's Norwegian Fling is set to captivate audiences on BBC TV and BBC iPlayer in 2024. Following their 2022 Scottish expedition, Martin Compston and his companion Phil MacHugh are back, this time diving into the heart of modern Norway, quite literally.

In this upcoming six-part series for BBC Scotland, BBC Two, and BBC iPlayer, viewers will witness the dynamic duo exploring the captivating landscapes and vibrant culture of Norway. The journey spans approximately 2,000 miles from Oslo to the Arctic North, offering a blend of breathtaking remote scenery and unexpected urban adventures.

Martin Compston, renowned TV star, expresses his anticipation, stating, "I can't wait for people to see this series," while Phil MacHugh adds, "We've got some amazing adventures to show you." Prepare for an immersive experience as Norwegian Fling promises to be a spectacular exploration of the people and places that make Norway a must-see destination. Stay tuned for this exciting travelogue, coming soon to BBC TV and BBC iPlayer.