Sunday 29 March 2020

Birds, buds and bright days: how spring can make us healthier and happier / Nature can be source of solace in crisis, says David Attenborough

Birds, buds and bright days: how spring can make us healthier and happier

Longer, lighter days can help us banish old habits, sleep better and improve our mental health, even during the lockdown

Amy Fleming
Sun 29 Mar 2020 15.00 BST

Thank goodness that, in this time of crisis, it is now spring. In the northern hemisphere, at least, we can say hello to green shoots, flowers, bumblebees and butterflies. Finally, the clocks have gone back to British Summer Time. We’ve lost an hour of sleep, but hello, light.

The greatest hope for the new season this year is that better weather will start to make it harder for coronavirus to spread. And for those lucky enough to still have their health, spring can provide other consolations. Its strong sense of a new beginning nudges our outlook and actions in welcome ways. Katherine Milkman, a behavioural scientist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, has studied the phenomenon and found that there is more to spring cleaning than the sunlight suddenly showing up cobwebs and window smears. “The start of spring generally makes us feel more motivated – it’s a so-called ‘fresh start date’,” she says. As such, it makes us feel less connected to the past. “That disconnect gives us a sense that whatever we messed up on previously, we can get right now. Maybe the old you failed to quit smoking or start a lasting exercise routine, but the new you can do it.”

These moments, she says, also tend “to promote bigger-picture thinking, which gets us focused on our goals”. Whether facing health, financial or professional worries, newly working from home or home schooling, or being suddenly at a loss for something to do, Milkman says this effect can stretch “across all of our goal-oriented activities. We’ve seen that it affects everything from decisions about exercise to retirement savings.”

Spring can also fortify us with the relief it brings from seasonal affective disorder (Sad). Even if you do not have a clinical case of it, says Hugh Selsick, chair of the sleep working group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “most people will experience some degree of lifting of mood in the summer months”. Studies looking at populations in North America have illustrated this neatly, according to Selsick. “The further north you go, the worse our mood gets in the winter, because of that lack of light. For us [in the north] the payoff is that we also get these really nice bright long, spring and summer days.

“As humans, we evolved in a tropical place, where there was a lot more light,” Selsick says. This means our brains have evolved to expect a certain amount of it. “It’s probably why we are so susceptible to changes in light,” he says. And why the gloomier months can negatively affect sleep patterns and mood.

Sad symptoms that spring might alleviate include low mood, tiredness, sleeping longer than normal and, says Selsick, cravings of carbohydrates in particular. So feel free to harness this knowledge to fuel a new effort to start exceeding your five a day.

Now that most of us are only allowed out once a day, for exercise, the greatest gains in terms of making the most of spring light are to be had from stepping out first thing in the morning. Not only will getting up and out help avoid the crowds of joggers, but morning light is the most crucial for setting our circadian rhythms. “It’s much better at synchronising our body clocks and getting us back into sync with the outside world,” says Selsick.

When it’s dark, we produce melatonin, which acts as a time signal to the body, telling it we should be sleepy. “That first bit of light in the morning,” says Selsick, “is very effective at switching that melatonin off, which then tells the brain and the rest of the body it’s now time to be awake and active.

“We have a special set of receptors in our eyes which communicate directly with the body clock in the brain,” he adds. “They’re particularly sensitive to blue-green light, which on a [sunny] day like today is the colour of the sky. So that sort of bright sunlight, that outdoor light is what our brains are particularly sensitive to.” Exposure to this in the morning helps us to wake up and shake off bleary-eyed grumpiness. “And it helps to regulate our sleep. If your body knows when the day is starting, it’s easier for it to also know at what time it needs to start winding down and getting ready for sleep.” And of course sleeping well has the positive knock-on effect of giving you a better shot at feeling content and having good overall health.

The big danger with being locked down, warns Selsick, is “allowing your whole rhythm to drift”. Even if a temporary break from commuting allows you to sleep in a little, keep your waking-up time consistent to reap the benefits of the spring sunshine. “If you’re getting that first dose of light at a different time every morning, your body has no idea where it is in time,” he says. “You’re essentially jet-lagging your body by having a different rising time every day.” Setting regular meal times helps keep our daily rhythms in sync, too.

It’s essential that we make the most of opportunities to be outside, whether it’s that one permitted outing, or additional gardening, or spending some time on the balcony. “The more outdoors you can get the better, without getting in close contact with people,” says Selsick.

Getting some sun can fill our heads with new ideas, too. In 2005, psychologists at the University of Michigan found that half an hour out in the sun boosted not only mood, but also memory and creativity. To test the latter, they assessed changes in what they call cognitive broadening – “a style of thinking in which people become more creative and which is hypothesised to be an adaptive shift in cognition that leads to behavioral flexibility and exploration”, write the authors.

Late-evening light may be less likely to have an impact on circadian rhythms than morning rays, but, says Selsick, “people do generally report a better quality of life if they have some light in the evening”. Indeed. A 2016 study by researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah looked at six years of data from more than 16,000 adults and found that seasonal increases in hours of sunshine correlated with decreased mental health distress.

Longer days also seem to extend the amount of use we get from waking hours. When it’s light in the evenings, it feels like daytime for longer. Staying up to batch cook, bake bread or, in the current climate, have beers with friends over Zoom, will seem appealing all of a sudden. “Light does to some extent push sleep away a little bit,” says Selsick. “And people do often feel more alert when there’s bright light.”

And of course, with spring, light and warmth comes nature. April will see the return of swallows, swifts, cuckoos, martins and other feathery summer visitors. The more birds we see in our neighbourhoods, and the more greenery, the more robust our mental health will be, according to a 2017 study by the University of Exeter. In 2019, data from 20,000 British people crunched by researchers at the same university showed that the more time spent enjoying nature, the greater life satisfaction reported.

This is why GPs have been prescribing gardening as therapy. So plant some seeds and watch them grow, whether that’s in a flowerbed or a window-sill or balcony pot. Get a bird feeder – ensuring it’s inaccessible to squirrels, which are bird’s nest predators. Dig out your binoculars and indulge in some twitching, or figure out (with some online help) which song belongs to which bird.

The green shoots of a new chapter in our lives provide opportunities to do better, says Milkman. “The Covid-19 crisis is inaugurating a new era and shaking up our routines. Horrific as the crisis is, it presents an opportunity to size up our routines and consider what we want to change and how we can be better. I hope people will capitalise on that motivation and find ways to help one another (from a requisite social distance) and themselves achieve important goals.”

Yes, we are on lockdown. We may be emotionally exhausted and scared, but at least spring makes our daily outdoor exercise allowance more enticing. On warmer days, we can throw open the windows, let the fresh air flood in and expel the indoor pollutants that have accumulated from a winter’s worth of cooking and cleaning. We can welcome the reduction in traffic noise and fumes. These may be bittersweet byproducts of virus hell, but it’s all the better to hear the birds.

Nature can be source of solace in crisis, says David Attenborough

Broadcaster says in magazine interview that if we damage nature ‘we damage ourselves’

PA Media
Mon 30 Mar 2020 00.01 BST

David Attenborough
 David Attenborough spoke to the Big Issue in early March, before the UK went into lockdown.
The natural world can be a source of solace during times of crisis, Sir David Attenborough has said.

Speaking about the climate, the broadcaster and naturalist, 93, said the world was at an unprecedented point.

He told Big Issue magazine: “In times of crisis, the natural world is a source of both joy and solace. The natural world produces the comfort that can come from nothing else. And we are part of the natural world. If we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves.”

He also said he had cause for hope: “Kids these days are knowledgeable, aware of what’s happening, and are concerned. They are vocal. I haven’t known a generation of children that could be placed alongside these today.”

He said of the environment: “We’re in an unprecedented situation. We know quite a lot about the history of the world. We go back 500m years and there is no species with anything like the power Homo sapiens has over the natural world.

“There is nothing remotely like the situation we’re in at the moment. There’s no moral to be taken from what happened in the past. We’ve got a completely blank sheet of paper in front of us.

“The plain fact is that every mouthful of food you eat comes from the natural world. There’s no food that nourishes you that doesn’t come from the natural world. Every lungful of air that you take is refined by the natural world, oxygen breathed out by plants. If you can’t breathe and you can’t eat, you don’t exist.”

Attenborough was interviewed by the magazine in early March, before the UK went into lockdown.

He said: “Problems are short-term and long-term … the short-term we deal with and the long-term ‘we’ll do tomorrow’. But tomorrow never comes. And then suddenly we discover it’s too late.”

The full interview is in the current edition of Big Issue. Vendors are unable to sell it on the streets because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the publication and its beneficiaries can be supported via subscription.

Friday 27 March 2020

The Chukka Boot

Chukka boots are ankle-high leather boots with suede or leather uppers, leather or rubber soles, and open lacing with two or three pairs of eyelets. The name chukka possibly comes from the game of polo, where a chukka is a period of play.
Generally, "chukka boot" refers to a form of desert boots originally worn by British soldiers in the Western Desert Campaign of World War II.
Chukkas are usually made from calfskin or suede,although they can be made from other materials. The style first became popular in the late 1940s through the 1960s as casual wear.In the 21st century, chukkas persist as a popular menswear shoe, particularly in the United Kingdom. They can be worn with both suits and more casual wear like jeans.
According to shoe historian June Swann, the essential chukka boot is ankle-high, open-laced, and unlined, with two to three pairs of eyelets, thin leather soles, calfskin suede uppers in two parts (each from a single piece of leather; quarters sewn on top of vamp), and rounded toes.

“It’s believed that the Chukka boot acquired its name because its similar appearance to the boot worn by polo players, the Jodhpur boot, which itself shares a resemblance to the Chelsea boot. But while Chukkas were identified with the sport of polo, the boots made specifically for polo are different enough in their design from chukkas that it’s unlikely chukkas were ever worn to actually play polo. They were, however, worn by polo players after matches because of their comfort.”

Thursday 26 March 2020

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

Belgravia is a historical drama television series based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Julian Fellowes—both named after Belgravia, an affluent district of London. The series, a co-production between British television network ITV and American cable network Epix, is written by Fellowes and directed by John Alexander.

On 4 February 2020, it was announced that the series will premiere first in the UK on ITV on 15 March 2020. On 18 January 2020, it was announced that the series will premiere on 12 April 2020 on Epix in the U.S..

Belgravia review – Julian Fellowes is caught in an uptown funk
2 / 5 stars2 out of 5 stars.   

Taking in class wars, Waterloo and the beginning of the Victorian era, ITV’s new Sunday night saga sees the Downton creator go for full-on melodrama

Lucy Mangan
Sun 15 Mar 2020 22.00 GMT

Julian Fellowes has been typing again. It is the year flimpty plomp, the pasteenth century in days of yore. There are worried English people in Brussels and a French war person, Napoleon Bonaparte – “Boney”, as people would period-specifically call him; you can check in books! – is making them worry Englishly. But the Lady Duke of Richmond is holding a ball, to show that she has a period-specific ballroom and won’t be intimidated by French war people, no she will not!

Philip Glenister is James Trenchard, a trenchant trencherman and victualler – which is pronounced ‘vittler’ – to the English soldiers who are stationed in Brussels in case Boney tries any of his French warring. To the chagrin (“shame and embarrassment” across La Manche) of his slightly better-born wife, Anne (Tamsin Greig), James has wangled invitations to the lady duke’s ball, despite being born to a family of tubers in Covent Garden before he became a successful merchant potato in Frenchland. He is also ignorant-potatoely encouraging his daughter Sophia in her flirtation with the duchess’s nephew, Edmund, Lord Bellasis (Jeremy Neumark Jones), even though she is, of course, half-potato and he cannot marry for love, no matter how much he wants a plate of chips.

All clear so far? Frenchies! Englisheses! Balls! Great! The ball begins, even though Anne “Maris Piper” Trenchard has said: “How strange that we should be having a ball when we are on the brink of war!” Anyone who is anyone is there, especially if they are the Duke of Wellington or the Prince of Orange (“Top Dutchman! Feel m’clogs!”). The Lady Duke of Richmond is enchanting, Anne is mortified and everyone manages to keep a straight face during the sword-dancing display.

All is going swimmingly, although Sophia professes to Edmund that she is a bit worried about the Wikipedia entry she read before about Boney’s advance before getting into her unbecoming but period-specific ballgown, and the possibility of this becoming the most famous ball in history, when Wellington is notified by a messenger that Boney – Napoleon Bonaparte – has unexpectedly arrived at the nearby strategic crossroads of Quatre Bras, which is French for Four Somethings. But Edmund tells her: “Don’t be silly, my little Jersey Royal! Nothing can happen to us! We’re the luckiest couple alive!” Sophia is relieved. “And the most in love!” she replies. No, she really does.

Alas, alack, a message is delivered to Wellington. It does say that the Bonester is at the strategic crossroads of Quatre Bras. Sacré bleu – or, more patriotically, crumbs! Everyone who has a penis, is wearing a red jacket, and is not one of the sword dancers gathers in the Man Duke of Richmond’s study to pore over a parchment map and note that, if they don’t stop French war man at Four Somethings, they may have to do battle nearby at … Where-a-loo? What-a-loo? Waterloo!

Crikey. I hope we win. Off they go – Wellers, Orangey and, sad to say, young Eddie. Sophia is distraught. Also, they need a victualler, pronounced vittler, so James heads off, too. He comes back from his first battlefield a broken man – and no wonder. “A very awful sight it was, too,” he tells Anne while staring into the middle distance, possibly at his agent, whom I imagine is standing with everyone else’s in the wings urging them to think of Maggie Smith’s pension and stagger on. “Bodies everywhere,” he says. “Groans from the wounded. Scavengers” – you can practically see the beads of sweat that must have formed on Fellowes’ brow as he dug deep to recreate the hellish scene for viewers – “picking at the corpses!”

Not only that, but Edmund was killed, quite dead, fatally too. James breaks the news to his baby new potato that her bit of fancy steak has had his frites. She is distraught again.

SMASH CUT to 26 years later. Afternoon tea has been invented, Sophia is dead, the titular London district of Belgravia has been built (by James, in partnership with Thomas Cubitt, dontcha know) and the script is even worse. Once we are ensconced with the Trenchards in their townhouse, we are introduced to the servants and all pretence that this is not Downton Abbey – in, uh, Belgravia – collapses. On the upside, Harriet Walter has arrived as Lady Brockenhurst and Alice Eve is an early Victorian meany of the first water.

So: something to pass the time as the coronavirus curfew descends, or something to send you screaming into the streets and licking the first handrail you can find? The decision is yours. The agents, at least, are happy either way.

Belgravia review: This six-part snobathon toils in the shadow of Downton Abbey

Julian Fellowes has an indisputable gift for instant characterisation, but his new period drama lacks Downton’s sense of place

Ed Cumming @EdCumming
Sunday 15 March 2020 23:03

The spikiest words in Belgravia, Julian Fellowes’ new six-part, Sunday night snobathon, are “Mr” and “Mrs”. Both are uttered frequently, and never without sneering emphasis on the sibilants, as if there were nothing worse you could be. Fellowes’ work has a consistent through-line, which is that nobility may be found at the top and bottom of society, but never in the middle. There’s nothing as vulgar as aspiration. 

The main would-bes here are the Trenchards, a merchant middle-class family on the make in early Victorian society. Philip Glenister is James Trenchard, an army victualler known as “The Magician”. In 1815, he and his wife Anne (Tamsin Greig) are in Brussels, where James is supplying Wellington’s army. They cadge an invitation to the Duchess of Richmond’s (Diana Kent) grand ball, through the machinations of their daughter Sophia (Emily Reid), who is having an affair with the Duchess’s nephew, Lord Bellasis (Jeremy Neumark Jones). Halfway through the party, Wellington gets word that Bonaparte has advanced, and orders his men away from the festivities to prepare for battle. Trenchard survives Waterloo, but Bellasis is killed.

Twenty-four years later, the Trenchards’ elevation is nearly complete. James is now working with the architect Thomas Cubitt to develop a new area of London – Belgravia – for the wealthy to live in. The Trenchards live there, too, in a grand townhouse complete with a suite of bitchy servants led by Turton (Paul Ritter, sceptical and acerbic and watchable). Sophia died soon after Waterloo, but they have another son, Oliver (Richard Goulding), married to a grasping socialite, Susan (Alice Eve.) At a new-fangled “tea” party, Anne bumps into the Duchess of Richmond, who remembers her from all those years before. The Duchess’s sister Lady Brockenhurst (Harriet Walter) – Bellasis’s mother – introduces herself, and soon we learn Sophia had a secret.

As with everything Fellowes does, Belgravia toils in the long dark shadow of Downton Abbey. On the evidence of the first episode, it lacks Downton’s sense of place. From the first time we saw Highclere Castle, the geography of that programme was set firmly in the mind. Belgravia is a trickier sell. Fellowes has also never met a bit of clunky historical exposition he didn’t like. A discussion about Thomas Cubitt sounds like a dramatised Wikipedia entry.

Yet he has an indisputable gift for instant characterisation. The moment someone walks into shot, we know who they are, what they want and how they fit into the precise social stratification of Fellowes’ universe. It’s not subtle, and it’s certainly a suboptimal use of talents such as Walter, Glenister and Greig, but it is effective. Those in Britain who like to watch icy women in lavish frocks throwing side-eye over the saucers – which is roughly nine million people – will drink it up. Belgravia doesn’t have ideas above its station, and in Fellowes-land, that’s a recipe for success.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Royals practise physical distancing as Charles self-isolates

"The couple traditionally spend time over Easter in Scotland, based at Charles’s 18th-century mansion, Birkhall, set on a 53,000-acre Highland estate on Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, that he inherited from his grandmother, the Queen Mother.
They arrived on Friday and Charles, known as the Duke of Rothesay when in Scotland, is said to have become unwell with mild coronavirus symptoms over the weekend."

Royals practise physical distancing as Charles self-isolates

Queen is in Windsor, Prince William and family in Norfolk and Charles in Scotland

Caroline Davies
Wed 25 Mar 2020 17.00 GMTLast modified on Wed 25 Mar 2020 17.08 GMT

The Queen is at Windsor and following “appropriate advice”, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are in self-isolation on Royal Deeside and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are at their family home in Norfolk.

As the coronavirus outbreak separates families across the UK, so it is that members of the royal family also do not know when they will next see each other in person.

News that Prince Charles has tested positive for Covid-19 – though his wife has not – raised concerns over his contact with his elderly mother, who will be 94 in April, and father, the Duke of Edinburgh, 98.

His last meeting with the Queen is known to have been on 12 March following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Doctors have estimated that the earliest time Charles could have been infectious was the following day, 13 March.

It is not known whether the Queen has been tested. Buckingham Palace would only say that she “remains in good health” and is “following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare”.

Government advice for anyone over the age of 70 or with medical conditions is to practise physical distancing. The Queen has been doing that since leaving Buckingham Palace on 19 March and decamping to Windsor where she will stay for the foreseeable future.

Windsor Castle is her favourite residence, and where she and her sister, Margaret, spent most of their time during the second world war. Now closed to the public due to the virus crisis, it affords her greater protection than the busier Buckingham Palace, where more staff are based.

Prince Philip, who spends his time since retirement based at Sandringham, Norfolk, was helicoptered south to join her last Thursday, a decision likely to have been based on concerns about how long they would otherwise have been separated. He was not at Buckingham Palace at the same time as Charles.

It is understood that the couple have a skeleton staff attending only to them. This is likely to include the Queen’s dresser, Angela Kelly, and the Page of the Backstairs, Paul Whybrew, along with Philip’s valet and page. A housemaid, chef and footman are also understood to be part of the team.

In line with government guidance, the couple have not been visited by family, though the Duke of York lives on the Windsor estate and the Earl and Countess of Wessex in nearby Bagshot.

The prime minister’s weekly audience with the Queen is being conducted by telephone.

Charles, 71, and Camilla, 72, have left their London residence, Clarence House. They had been due to travel to Cyprus, Jordan and Bosnia on an official tour beginning 17 March, but this was cancelled. Instead the couple headed to Highgrove, Charles’s Gloucestershire home, on 13 March, from where he conducted several private meetings, some on Duchy of Cornwall business.

The couple traditionally spend time over Easter in Scotland, based at Charles’s 18th-century mansion, Birkhall, set on a 53,000-acre Highland estate on Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, that he inherited from his grandmother, the Queen Mother.

They arrived on Friday and Charles, known as the Duke of Rothesay when in Scotland, is said to have become unwell with mild coronavirus symptoms over the weekend.

With his condition not expected to escalate, he has been conducting daily business while self-isolating, including remaining in touch with his patronages and charities. A small retinue of domestic staff remains with them, though there is understood to be no physical interaction between the staff and the royals, who are believed to be isolating separately from each other in the house.

The Cambridges, meanwhile, have moved from their London residence at Kensington Palace to Anmer Hall, their Norfolk home, where they usually spend school holidays and where there is plenty of space for George, six, Charlotte, four, and Louis, almost two, to play.

It seems they are likely to be performing frontline royal roles during this crisis. Last week they visited staff answering calls at an NHS 111 call centre in Croydon, south London. In an Instagram post, William said the couple had been “proud to visit staff working at NHS 111 to pass on our personal thanks, along with those of my grandmother and father, to staff working around the clock to provide care and advice to those that need it most.”

Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus

Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus
Heir to the throne self-isolating at home in Scotland and is said to be ‘up and about’

Caroline Davies
Wed 25 Mar 2020 11.59 GMTLast modified on Wed 25 Mar 2020 14.35 GMT

Prince Charles is reported to be in good spirits and continuing to work.

Charles, 71, is said to be “up and about” and in “good spirits” and has continued to work for the last few days.

Doctors believe the earliest he would have been contagious was on 13 March. He last saw the Queen on 12 March, following an investiture.

His last public engagement was also on 12 March. He has held private meetings since then.

Buckingham Palace said: “Her Majesty the Queen remains in good health. The Queen last saw the Prince of Wales briefly on the morning of 12 March and is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.”

It is not known whether the Queen has been tested for coronavirus.

Charles was tested on Monday after qualifying for an NHS test due to age and medical condition criteria in Aberdeenshire. He received the results on Tuesday. It is thought he was tested at Birkhall, his home on the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.

Medical advice is that it is unlikely that his condition will escalate into a more serious case. He is thought to have first displayed symptoms over the weekend.

Clarence House said: “The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus. He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.

 “The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus. In accordance with government and medical advice, the prince and the duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland. The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing.

“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”

Camilla is self-isolating separately from Charles at Birkhall and will carry on doing so for 14 days.

No details have been made public about exactly what symptoms Charles has displayed, except that they are mild.

He and the duchess travelled to Birkhall on SundayThey have a small team of domestic staff who will remain there, sources have said.

The couple are said not to be interacting with that small team of staff in any way.

Charles is understood to have spoken to the Duke of Cambridge, who is in Norfolk, and the Duke of Sussex, who is on Vancouver Island.

Since his last public engagements on 12 March, Charles has held a small number of private meetings at Highgrove, his home in Gloucestershire, on Duchy of Cornwall business. The people he interacted with during those meetings have been informed of Charles’s diagnosis. It is not known whether they have been tested.

All senior members of the royal family were together on 9 March at a Commonwealth Day service.

Monday 23 March 2020

All Creatures Great and Small 2020


All Creatures Great and Small (2020 TV series)
Based on             If Only They Could Talk
by James Herriot
Written by          Ben Vanstone
Directed by        Brian Percival
Original network             Channel 5

All Creatures Great and Small is an upcoming 2020 television series based upon the books about a Yorkshire vet, written by Alf Wight under the pen name of James Herriot. The series, which also consists of a special Christmas episode, has been filmed in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the James Herriot series.

The show revolves around a trio of veterinary surgeons working in the Yorkshire Dales. Siegfried Farnon (described as an "eccentric), reluctantly hires James Herriot into his veterinary practice at Skeldale Hall. Besides Siegfried and James, there is Siegfried's younger brother, Tristan, and Mrs Hall, the housekeeper at Skeldale Hall.

Nicholas Ralph as James Herriot
Samuel West as Siegfried Farnon
Anna Madeley as Mrs Hall
Callum Woodhouse as Tristan Farnon
Rachel Shenton as Helen Alderson
Diana Rigg, Matthew Lewis and Nigel Havers are also in the series in as yet undisclosed roles.[4]

The series, which was shot in the Yorkshire Dales, is a being produced by Playground Entertainment for Channel 5 in the United Kingdom, and PBS in America. The BBC series which was broadcast between 1978 and 1990, was filmed largely in the northern part of the Dales (Wensleydale and Swaledale), whereas the new series has been filmed further south in the national park (around Nidderdale). Grassington in Wharfedale has been used as the setting for the fictional town of Darrowby (Askrigg was used in the BBC series).

A six-episode series and a Christmas special were filmed in 2019 and also in early 2020.

Channel 5 to revive TV drama All Creatures Great and Small
 This article is more than 8 months old
Series based on James Herriot books about life as a Yorkshire vet given a fresh interpretation

Mark Sweney
@marksweney  Email
Thu 27 Jun 2019 13.10 BSTLast modified on Fri 28 Jun 2019 00.45 BST

The television drama All Creatures Great and Small is making a comeback. The series, based on the real-life adventures of the Yorkshire vet James Herriot, originally ran on BBC1 from 1978 to 1990, and is now being given a fresh interpretation by Channel 5.

The six-part series, a co-production with the American broadcaster PBS, is due to start shooting on location in Yorkshire this year. The series, which includes a Christmas special, will air next year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original publication of Herriot’s much-loved books.

Sebastian Cardwell, the digital channel controller at Channel 5, said: “James Herriot has a special place in the heart of the public and the commission of this iconic drama series, against the stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales, is set to bring joy to a new army of TV viewers.

“The original books affectionately captured a unique slice of British life. In challenging times we hope the charming and heartwarming stories of community and compassion will resonate with new audiences.”

The production has not yet announced the casting for the lead role. Christopher Timothy played Herriot in the original series, which also starred Robert Hardy, Peter Davison, Lynda Bellingham and Carol Drinkwater. At its peak, All Creatures Great and Small pulled in audiences of more than 13 million.

The new series will be created by Playground, the production company behind the hit dramas Howards End and Wolf Hall, with a promise to remain faithful to the books of Alf Wight, James Herriot’s real name.

 “It is a responsibility we take very seriously,” said Colin Callender, chief executive of Playground. “The series will embrace the fun and nostalgia of revisiting the England of the past, while celebrating Herriot’s values that, despite all our current upheaval, still underpin British life today.”

The bucolic depiction of country life seems a far cry from the Channel 5 of old, the former home of Big Brother. Its schedule was once described as “films, football and fucking”.

However, the broadcaster has made a return to quality drama in the past year under Ben Frow, Channel 5’s director of programmes. This includes Cold Call, which is set in a woman’s prison, and 15 Days, a murder mystery set at a Welsh farmhouse.

In 2010, the BBC commissioned a three-part series, Young James, based on the earlier years of Herriot’s career. It was filmed and set in Glasgow, the city where Wight learned his trade.

All Creatures Great and Small remake-BTS filming in Grassington,Yorkshire.

Friday 20 March 2020

FOGEY UNLIMITED Home of the elegant gentleman UK

Phone: 01531890996








Wednesday 18 March 2020


Chelsea boots commonly known as Dealer boots outside London, are close-fitting, ankle-high boots with an elastic side panel. They often have a loop or tab of fabric on the back of the boot, enabling the boot to be pulled on. The boot dates back to the Victorian era, when it was worn by both men and women.

Chelsea boots and some of its variants were considered an iconic element of the 1960s in Britain, particularly the mod scene.

The design is credited to Queen Victoria's shoemaker J. Sparks-Hall. The shoemaker, J. Sparks-Hall claimed that "She (Queen Victoria) walks in them daily and thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention". In his advertising of the period, he refers to the boot as J. Sparkes-Hall's Patent Elastic Ankle Boots. The boot became popular for horse riding as well as walking.

Charles Goodyear's development of vulcanised rubber enabled the invention of the elastic gusset boot. The advantage of elasticised boots meant they could be easily removed and put on again. By the late 1840s, the fashion began to catch on. This became a prominent style in the West until the onset of World War I.

Theatrical and ballet shoe maker Anello & Davide created a variant of the Chelsea boot in 1961 with Cuban heels and pointed toes for the Beatles, after John Lennon and Paul McCartney saw some Chelsea boots in its shop window and commissioned four pairs with higher, Cuban heels – this style became known as Beatle boots.

Beatle boots, as were Chelsea boots, were frequently adopted by mods and worn with tailored suits.

Variants and similar boots include a type of riding boot called jodhpur boots as well as assorted work boot designs, including Australian work boots like those manufactured by Blundstone and other companies: such work boots may have steel toes.

In Brazil this kind of boot, often rugged and of low-quality, are associated with the countryside population and construction workers, being cheap to acquire, popularly known as 'Botinhas Catitó' after one of its brands.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Spain's king renounces inheritance and cuts father's income over 'offshore fund'

Spain's king renounces inheritance and cuts father's income over 'offshore fund'

Royal household responds after report named King Felipe as a beneficiary of an alleged offshore fund set up by his father in 2008

Ashifa Kassam in Madrid
Mon 16 Mar 2020 00.07 GMTLast modified on Mon 16 Mar 2020 14.09 GMT

Spain’s King Felipe VI has renounced his personal inheritance from his father and stripped the former king Juan Carlos of his annual stipend after it was alleged that Felipe VI was poised to receive millions of euros from a secret offshore fund with ties to Saudi Arabia.

The statement issued by Spain’s royal household on Sunday evening came after a report named King Felipe as a beneficiary of an offshore fund set up by his father in 2008. At the time, Juan Carlos was still in power.

The former head of state abdicated in 2014, after a series of scandals sent his popularity plummeting. Juan Carlos, 82, had continued to receive an annual stipend from the state, however, amounting to around €194,000 (£175,000) in 2018.

The alleged offshore account, named as the Lucum Foundation, held around €65m in funds that were described as a “donation” from “the king of Saudi Arabia”, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The account was set up at an office in Panama city and tied to an account with Geneva’s Mirabaud private bank, the report added.

An investigation by Swiss prosecutors into another offshore fund allegedly tied to Juan Carlos, named Fondation Zagatka, sparked calls this month for Spain’s parliament to investigate the business dealings of the former king. The push was rejected by Spain’s Socialists and the two main parties on the right, who argued that any such probe would be unconstitutional.

According to newspaper La Tribune de Genève, prosecutors believe the fund could be linked to kickback payments after the former monarch helped to broker business deals with Saudi Arabia while in power.

On Sunday, the statement by the Royal household noted that King Felipe became aware last year of claims that he was the beneficiary of the Lucum Foundation and subsequently swore before a notary public that he had told his father that he was renouncing any benefit from the fund. King Felipe denied any knowledge of being a beneficiary of the Zagatka fund.

Neither King Felipe nor his household had any knowledge, participation or responsibility in the alleged events, the statement noted. The statement also includes a note from the former king, stating that he had never told his son that he was the beneficiary of the two funds.

The former king had been informed of his son’s decision to renounce his inheritance as well as “any asset, investment or financial structure whose origin, characteristic or purpose may not be in accordance with the law or with the rectitude and integrity” of the crown, the statement added.

Since taking the throne, Felipe has fought hard to regain the royal family’s footing and move past the calls for a referendum on the monarchy that greeted his proclamation. The task was made more difficult after his sister, the Infanta Cristina, was caught up in a financial scandal involving her husband, the former Olympic handball player Iñaki Urdangarín.

Sunday 15 March 2020

Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street NEW YORK

'It almost destroyed me': behind New York's greatest nightclub, Studio 54

In a new exhibition, Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager goes back to the late 70s to explore the highs and lows of the celebrity-packed hotspot

Nadja Sayej
Fri 13 Mar 2020 16.05 GMTLast modified on Fri 13 Mar 2020 16.37 GMT

Bianca Jagger on a white horse that happened to be inside Studio 54 on her birthday in 1977. Photograph: Rose Hartman / The Artists Company

Ian Schrager has seen many things in his life, but nothing quite like this. The 73-year-old Studio 54 co-founder is freaking out on the phone.

“It’s funny after 40 years! Forty years!” he exclaims. “Doing an exhibition on Studio 54? In a world-class museum? I don’t think anyone would have believed that – but they were too busy dancing.”

The sprawling exhibition Studio 54: Night Magic will open soon at the Brooklyn Museum, featuring more than 650 objects, artworks and memorabilia that pays tribute to the legendary disco nightclub. From black-and-white photos to records, cameras, couture, platform heels and VIP drink tickets designed by Andy Warhol, it traces the influence of this beacon of New York nightlife (and yes, there is a booming soundtrack playing disco classics, including I Will Survive, in the background).

“It’s kind of amazing the way, all of a sudden, it has exploded,” says Schrager. “I finally felt comfortable after all these years of really not talking about it; it almost destroyed me.”

Studio 54 is the subject of a recent documentary on Netflix and a Rizzoli book, where the first page reads: “Only one person can tell this story.” (His business partner, Steve Rubell, died of Aids complications in 1989.) Though the club is remembered as a celebrity hotspot – Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor and David Bowie were guests – it came to a swift end when the co-founders were jailed for tax evasion in 1980.

“I was lucky enough to get a presidential pardon,” says Schrager, in 2017, by then president Barack Obama. “Now, there’s this exhibition.”

It was in midtown Manhattan where the Brooklyn-born entrepreneurs turned a former TV studio and opera house into the hottest nightclub of the 20th century, from 1977 to 1980. Despite its short run, Studio 54 has had a lasting impact on music, fashion, photography and pop culture, fostering the boom and buzz of celebrity culture.

 “It was the beginning of the age of celebrity,” recalls Schrager. “Now, 40 years later, the idea of celebrity has become a parody of itself.” He explains: “When we got started, you became a celebrity when you accomplished something. Now, you become a celebrity without accomplishing anything. It’s completely upside down, but I guess that’s the way it is now.”

The exhibit features more than 250 photos, from Brooke Shields in the DJ booth with Calvin Klein, Grace Jones singing at 3am while pointing a gun at the audience, Bianca Jagger seated on a white horse on the dancefloor, Halston kissing Liza Minnelli, Tina Turner laughing with Francesco Scavullo, Diana Ross with a balloon on New Year’s Eve and Truman Capote passed out with a hat over his face.

“Any celebrity that came into New York made a stop on The Tonight Show, then made a stop at Studio 54,” says Schrager. “That’s just the way it was.”

The photos are not posed portraits; they’re spontaneous moments captured on the dancefloor, in motion, off the cuff moments that capture the energy, style and raucousness of the era.

“There was definitely a ‘no photo’ policy,” he says. “But a lot of the photographers were friends.”

Studio 54 is remembered as the first non-judgmental, queer-friendly mainstream nightclub, which was not unlike an adult amusement park. It was a mix of gay, straight, rich and poor. It’s also one of the few places trans women were welcome, and roller skating was allowed on the dance floor. It’s where Elton John danced with the drag queen Divine, and where stars like Farrah Fawcett and Sylvester Stallone danced to escape the everyday.

With its growing demand, Schrager invented the red velvet nightclub rope at Studio 54 after seeing how crowds were controlled in movie theatres. But it wasn’t meant to keep anyone out. In fact, there was no real hierarchy for the clientele at Studio 54, according to Schrager. “We never believed in having a VIP area because it would take all the great people out of the room, and the other people would be short-changed,” he says. “As a general rule, we still don’t believe in taking those great people out of the room.”

The exhibit features Schrager’s old business cards, telegrams, party invitations and his handwritten day planners, reminding himself to get a liquor license for the club (which he failed to do, and wound up having to close the club for a short period of time).

There’s Elizabeth Taylor’s sapphire necklace, which she wore to the club in 1979, paparazzi photos by Ron Galella, Interview magazine covers with Cher, glittery outfits by Yves Saint Laurent and vitrines devoted to architectural drawings.

Probably the most famous Studio 54 photo was the shot of Bianca Jagger seated on a horse, but Schrager remembers other moments, as well. “I remember Margaret Trudeau dancing and making sure the photographer got it, because we knew it would be big press, big media,” he says of the former first lady of Canada.

“I remember Andy Warhol walking around with his camera, in a funny kind of way, you might want to say he was the one who invented selfies,” says Schrager. “When I see a Studio 54 photo, it’s just like yesterday. I have a lot of fun memories of the club, the only sad thing is that Steve Rubell isn’t here to see this redemption, after 40 years.”

In one photo, Rubell sits with TV host Tom Snyder underneath a wooden sculpture of a moon with a spoon to its nose. It’s a stage sculpture designed by Richie Williamson.

“That piece has been totally, totally misunderstood, I want to explain,” says Schrager. “People thought we were celebrating drugs, far from it. When you have a club, it’s supposed to be cool, subversive to the status quo, a little arrogant, underground, we thought that was a way to present it. It’s a bit subversive and risque, but that’s what a nightclub is about.”

His time behind bars and Rubell’s passing are not easy subjects. “I just think the only nightclub people I knew who survived the whole experience were Steve and I,” says Schrager. “We barely survived because it almost destroyed us.”

Was it worth it all? “Certainly,” he says. “Would I do it again? Not if it ended up in the same way. Knock on wood.”

Though the nightclub’s success is much envied and has been copied countless times, the magic recipe is still unknown.

“I can’t tell you what the definition of what magic is, but we all know it when we walk into a place and it has that electricity in the air,” says Schrager. “We all know it, feel it and when you walked into Studio 54, you felt it.”

That same spirit lives on at Schrager’s new nightclub, Paradise Club, on the seventh floor of the Times Square Edition hotel. It’s where Diana Ross performed for its opening night, red lights line the ceiling, Keith Richards hangs out with his daughters and where one can see a risque stage performance based on William Blake’s book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

“It’s so rare to create that environment again,” says Schrager. “Don’t forget there’s limitations, laws and regulations, you can only go so far, I don’t have to go as far as I did before. In a way, the human condition is unchanged; you just have to find out, unlock it and have a catalyst to get everyone to let loose and have fun.”

Studio 54: Night Magic will be showing at the Brooklyn Museum when it reopens

Studio 54 is a former nightclub and currently a Broadway theatre, located at 254 West 54th Street, between Eighth Avenue and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The building opened in 1927 as the Gallo Opera House. It operated as an entertainment venue under various names until 1942, when CBS began using it as a radio and television studio dubbed Studio 52.

In 1977, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager opened a nightclub in the building, retaining many of former TV and theatrical sets and naming it for its street. Launched at the peak of the disco dancing and music trend, the club became world-famous, noted for its celebrity guest lists, restrictive (and subjective) entry policies (based on one's appearance and style), and open club drug use. In 1980, the club shut down after its founders were convicted for evading taxes. They sold the club to Mark Fleischman, who reopened it, then sold it in 1984 to new owners, who closed it in 1986.

Since November 1998, the site has served as a venue for productions of the Roundabout Theatre Company and retains the name Studio 54. A separate restaurant and nightclub, Feinstein's/54 Below, operates in the basement of the building.

When CBS began marketing the building in 1976, various parties in the art and fashion world expressed interest in seeing it converted into a nightclub. Male model Uva Harden tried to get gallery owner Frank Lloyd to finance the club, until Lloyd lost a $9 million lawsuit to the estate of the artist Mark Rothko, in the Rothko Case.

In 1977, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager transformed the theater into a nightclub called Studio 54, with Jack Dushey as a financial backer. They operated the company as Broadway Catering Corp. It took only six weeks to transform the theater into a nightclub and cost $400,000 before its grand opening on April 26.

Rubell and Schrager hired Scott Bromley as architect, Ron Doud as interior designer, and Brian Thompson as lighting designer. Jules Fisher and Paul Marantz, two well-known lighting designers, created the dance floor environment and created movable theatrical sets and lights using the copious existing TV lighting circuits and fly system, which allowed for a dynamic, constantly-changing, environment and with which the crowd could be lit brightly.

Within a month of opening, the New York State Liquor Authority raided Studio 54 for selling liquor without a license and closed it. The owners of the nightclub said the incident was a "misunderstanding". The next night the club reopened, serving fruit juice and soda instead of liquor. Prior to the raid, the nightclub had been using daily "caterers' permits", which enabled the nightclub to serve alcohol but were intended for weddings or political events. The State had denied the daily permit for the night and raided the nightclub. The nightclub had been using these permits while waiting for its liquor license to be processed.