Alexander Fleming

Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist Alexander Fleming sadly died 11 March 1955. He was born on 6 August 1881 at Lochfield, a farm near Darvel, in Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the third of the four children of farmer Hugh Fleming (1816–1888) from his second marriage to Grace Stirling Morton (1848–1928), the daughter of a neighbouring farmer. Hugh Fleming had four surviving children from his first marriage. He was 59 at the time of his second marriage, and died when Alexander (known as Alec) was seven.Fleming went to Loudoun Moor School and Darvel School, and earned a two-year scholarship to Kilmarnock Academy before moving to London, where he attended the Royal Polytechnic Institution. After working in a shipping office for four years, the twenty-year-old Fleming inherited some money from an uncle, John Fleming. His elder brother, Tom, was already a physician and suggested to his younger sibling that he follow the same career.

So in 1903, the younger Alexander enrolled at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in Paddington; he qualified with an MBBS degree from the school with distinction in 1906. Fleming had been a private in the London Scottish Regiment of the Volunteer Force since 1900, and had been a member of the rifle club at the medical school. The captain of the club, wishing to retain Fleming in the team suggested that he join the research department at St Mary’s, where he became assistant bacteriologist to Sir Almroth Wright, a pioneer in vaccine therapy and immunology. In 1908, he gained a BSc degree with Gold Medal in Bacteriology, and became a lecturer at St Mary’s until 1914. On 23 December 1915, Fleming married a trained nurse, Sarah Marion McElroy of Killala, County Mayo, Ireland. Fleming served throughout World War I as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was Mentioned in Dispatches. He and many of his colleagues worked in battlefield hospitals at the Western Front in France.

Following World War I in 1918 he returned to St Mary’s Hospital, where he actively searched for anti-bacterial agents, having witnessed the death of many soldiers from sepsis resulting from infected wounds. Antiseptics killed the patients’ immunological defences more effectively than they killed the invading bacteria. In an article he submitted for the medical journal The Lancet during World War I, Fleming described an ingenious experiment, which he was able to conduct as a result of his own glass blowing skills, in which he explained why antiseptics were killing more soldiers than infection itself during World War I. Antiseptics worked well on the surface, but deep wounds tended to shelter anaerobic bacteria from the antiseptic agent, and antiseptics seemed to remove beneficial agents produced that protected the patients in these cases at least as well as they removed bacteria, and did nothing to remove the bacteria that were out of reach. Sir Almroth Wrightstrongly supported Fleming’s findings, but despite this, most army physicians over the course of the war continued to use antiseptics even in cases where this worsened the condition of the patients..

By 1927, Fleming was investigating the properties of staphylococci. He was already well-known from his earlier work, and had developed a reputation as a brilliant researcher, but his laboratory was often untidy. On 3 September 1928, Fleming returned to his laboratory having spent August on holiday with his family. Before leaving, he had stacked all his cultures of staphylococci on a bench in a corner of his laboratory. On returning, Fleming noticed that one culture was contaminated with a fungus, and that the colonies of staphylococci that had immediately surrounded it had been destroyed, whereas other colonies farther away were normal. Fleming showed the contaminated culture to his former assistant Merlin Price, who reminded him, “That’s how you discovered lysozyme.”Fleming grew the mould in a pure culture and found that it produced a substance that killed a number of disease-causing bacteria. He identified the mould as being from the Penicillium genus, and, after some months of calling it “mould juice”, named the substance it released penicillin on 7 March 1929. The laboratory in which Fleming discovered and tested penicillin is preserved as the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum in St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.

He investigated its positive anti-bacterial effect on many organisms, and noticed that it affected bacteria such as staphylococci and many other Gram-positive pathogens that cause scarlet fever, pneumonia, meningitis and diphtheria, but not typhoid fever orparatyphoid fever, which are caused by Gram-negative bacteria, for which he was seeking a cure at the time. It also affected Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhoea although this bacterium is Gram-negative. Fleming published his discovery in 1929, in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology, but little attention was paid to his article. Fleming continued his investigations, but found that cultivating penicillium was quite difficult, and that after having grown the mould, it was even more difficult to isolate the antibiotic agent.

Fleming thought that the difficulty in producing Penicillin in quantity, Plus the slow action, Meant it would not be effective in treating infection and it would not last long enough in the human body (in vivo) to kill bacteria effectively. Many clinical tests were inconclusive, probably because it had been used as a surface antiseptic. Diring the 1930s, Fleming’s trials occasionally showed more promise and he continued, until 1940, to try to interest a chemist skilled enough to further refine usable penicillin. Fleming finally abandoned penicillin. However not long after, Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain took up researching and mass-producing it at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, using funds from the U.S. and British governments. They discovered how to isolate and concentrate penicillin. Shortly after the team published its first results in 1940, Fleming telephoned Howard Florey, Chain’s head of department, to say that he would be visiting wit him the next few days.

Scientist Norman Heatley suggested transferring the active ingredient of penicillin back into water by changing its acidity. This produced enough of the drug to begin testing on animals. There were many more people involved in the Oxford team, and at one point the entire Dunn School was involved in its production.After the team had developed a method of purifying penicillin to an effective first stable form in 1940, several clinical trials ensued, and their amazing success inspired the team to develop methods for mass production and mass distribution in 1945. Fleming was modest about his part in the development of penicillin, describing his fame as the “Fleming Myth” and he praised Florey and Chain for transforming the laboratory curiosity into a practical drug. Fleming was the first to discover the properties of the active substance, giving him the privilege of naming it: penicillin. He also kept, grew, and distributed the original mould for twelve years, and continued until 1940 to try to get help from any chemist who had enough skill to make penicillin. But Sir Henry Harris said in 1998:”Without Fleming, no Chain; without Chain, no Florey; without Florey, no Heatley; without Heatley, no penicillin.

Fleming also wrote many articles on bacteriology, immunology, and chemotherapy. His best-known discoveries are the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance penicillin from the mould Penicillium notatum in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Howard Floreyand Ernst Boris Chain. On 1999, Time magazine named Fleming one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, stating:It was a discovery that would change the course of history. The active ingredient in that mould, which Fleming named penicillin, turned out to be an infection-fighting agent of enormous potency. When it was finally recognized for what it was, the most efficacious life-saving drug in the world, penicillin would alter forever the treatment of bacterial infections. By the middle of the century, Fleming’s discovery had spawned a huge pharmaceutical industry, churning out synthetic penicillins to help against diseases like syphilis, gangrene and tuberculosis.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s classic science fiction novel, Frankenstein; or The modern Prometheus, was published 11 March 1818 It contains elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and is also considered to be one of the earliest examples of science Fiction due to the use of modern experiments in the laboratory” to achieve fantastic results. It has had a considerable influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films, and Television adaptations.

Frankenstein, starts with Captain Robert Walton, a failed writer who sets out to explore the North Pole and expand his scientific knowledge in hopes of achieving fame. During the voyage the crew spots a dog sled mastered by a gigantic figure. A few hours later, the crew rescues a nearly frozen and emaciated man named Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein has been in pursuit of the gigantic man observed by Walton’s crew. As Frankenstein starts to recover from his exertion he recounts a story of his life to Walton.

He was Born into a wealthy Geneva family, where he and his brothers, Ernest and William, were encouraged to seek a greater understanding of the world through science. As a young boy, Victor became obsessed with studying outdated theories on simulating natural wonders. When Victor is five years old, his parents adopt an orphan, Elizabeth Lavenza, with whom Victor later falls in love. Sadly Weeks before he leaves for the University of Ingolstadt in Germany, his mother dies of scarlet fever, creating further impetus towards his experiments. At university, he excels at chemistry and other sciences, soon developing a secret technique to impart life to non-living matter using electricity, and he creates a grotesque but sentient being from the parts of other recently deceased people scavenged from Morgues. Because of the difficulty in replicating the minute parts of the human body, Victor is forced to make the Creature roughly eight feet tall. As a result, the beautiful creation of his dreams is instead hideous, with yellow eyes and skin that barely conceals the muscle tissue and blood vessels underneath. Repulsed by his work, Victor flees. Saddened by the rejection, the Creature disappears. Victoria falls ill and is nursed back to health by his childhood friend, Henry Clerval. After a four-month recovery, he returns home when he learns of the murder of his brother William. Justine, William’s nanny, is hanged for the crime after William’s locket is found in her pocket. Upon arriving in Geneva, Victor sees the Monster at the crime scene, But he doubts anyone would believe the Creature was responsible.

Ravaged by grief and guilt, Victor retreats into the mountains. The Monster locates him, pleading for Victor to hear his tale. Now intelligent and articulate, the Creature tells how encounters with people led to his fear of them and drives him into the woods. While living near a cottage, he grew fond of the family living there. The Creature learned to speak by listening to them and he taught himself to read after discovering a lost satchel of books. When he saw his reflection in a pool, he realized his physical appearance was hideous. Despite this, he approached the family in hopes of becoming their friend, but they were frightened and fled their home. The Creature then burned the cottage in a fit of rage.The Monster then demands that Victor create a female companion like himself, arguing that as a living being, he has a right to happiness. The Creature promises he and his mate will vanish into the South American wilderness, never to reappear, if Victor grants his request.

Fearing for the safety of his family, Victor reluctantly agrees. Clerval accompanies him to England, but they separate in Scotland. Victor begins to suspect that the Monster is following him. Working on the female creature on the Orkney Islands, he is plagued by premonitions of disaster, and has serious misgivings about creating a mate for the Creature which might lead to the breeding of a race that could plague mankind. So He destroys the female enraging the creature who nearly kills him. The Monster then vows to disrupt Victor and Elizabeth on their upcoming wedding night. He then kills Clerval and Victor is subsequently imprisoned for Clerval’s murder and suffers another mental breakdown in prison. After being acquitted, he returns home with his father.

In Geneva, Victor prepares to marry Elizabeth and confront the Monster. Wrongly believing the Creature threatened his life, the night before their wedding Victor asks Elizabeth to stay in her room while he looks for “the fiend”. While Victor searches the house and grounds, the Creature murders Elizabeth. From the window, Victor sees the Monster, who taunts Victor with Elizabeth’s corpse. Grief-stricken by the deaths of William, Justine, Clerval, and Elizabeth, Victor’s father dies. Seeking revenge, Victor Frankenstein pursues his creation to the North Pole, however this also ends in tragedy…..

Alex Kingston/John Barrowman (Doctor Who)


Famous for being Captain Jack Harkness in the Science fiction television shows Doctor Who and Torchwood, the Scottish-American actor, singer, dancer, presenter and writer John Scot Barrowman, MBE was born 11 March 1967 in Glasgow, Scotland, he moved to the United States with his family in 1975. Encouraged by his high school teachers, Barrowman studied performing arts at the United States International University in San Diego before landing the role of Billy Crocker in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes at London’s West End.

Since his debut in professional theatre, Barrowman has played lead roles in various musicals both in the West End and on Broadway, including Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard and Matador. After appearing in Sam Mendes’ production of The Fix, he was nominated for the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical and, in the early 2000s, returned to the role of Billy Crocker in the revival of Anything Goes. His most recent West End credit was in the 2009 production of La Cage aux Folles.

Aside his theatrical career, Barrowman has appeared in various films including the musical biopic De-Lovely (2004) and musical comedy The Producers (2005). Before venturing into British television, he featured in the American television dramas Titans and Central Park West but he is better known for his acting and presenting work for the BBC that includes his work for CBBC in its earlier years, his self-produced entertainment programme Tonight’s the Night, and his BAFTA Cymru-nominated role of Captain Jack Harkness in the science fiction series Doctor Who and Torchwood. Barrowman has also had a number of guest roles in television programmes both in the US and the UK. He appeared as a contestant on the first series of celebrity ice skating show Dancing on Ice while his theatrical background allowed him to become a judge on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical talent shows How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything. In 2006, he was voted Stonewall’s Entertainer of the Year. Starting in 2013, he hosts the BBC One quiz show Pressure Pad. Barrowman now stars in the CW’s Arrow as Malcolm Merlyn, the show’s version of the DC villain Merlyn and one of the series’ main antagonists.

Barrowman is also featured on more than a dozen musical theatre recordings including cover tunes found on his 2007 album, Another Side, and 2008’s Music Music Music. Both albums accrued places on the UK Albums Chart, as did his self-titled John Barrowman (2010), which reached number 11, his highest chart placing to date. Barrowman has also published two memoirs and autobiographies, Anything Goes (2008) and I Am What I Am (2009), with his sister Carole as co-author. The siblings also teamed up to write a novel, Hollow Earth (2012). The second book in the series, Bone Quill, has been released in the UK and was released in the US in July 2013.

ALEX KINGSTON

English actress Alex Kingston was born 11 March 1963. She was brought up in Epsom, Surrey and was inspired to pursue acting by one of her teachers at Rosebery School for Girls. Kingston auditioned and performed in the Surrey County Youth Theatre production of Tom Jones as Mrs Fitzpatrick, alongside Sean Pertwee as Captain Fitzpatrick and Thwackum played by Tom Davison. She later completed a three-year programme at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to join the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Since then Kingston has appeared in a number of British-produced television dramas, including Grange Hill, Crocodile Shoes, The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, The Knock and various guest roles on The Bill. Kingston’s film credits include The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), A Pin for the Butterfly (1994), The Infiltrator (1995), Croupier (1998), Essex Boys (2000), Boudica (Warrior Queen in the USA) (2003) in which she played the eponymous Boudica, Sweet Land (2005) and Crashing (2007). In September 1997, Kingston gained North American television fame after being cast on the long-running medical drama ER as British surgeon Elizabeth Corday. Kingston played this role for just over seven seasons, leaving in October 2004 with the season 11 episode, “Fear”. In spring 2009, Kingston returned to ER during its 15th and final season for two episodes, “Dream Runner” and the two-hour series finale, “And in the End…”.In November 2005, Kingston guest-starred in the long-running mystery drama Without a Trace in the season 4 episode, “Viuda Negra”. She also portrayed Lucy Costin, a wealthy vacationer from the U.S. whose husband is kidnapped by a Mexican street gang during their honeymoon. In 2006, Kingston starred as Nurse Ratched, opposite Christian Slater as Randle Patrick McMurphy, in the Garrick Theatre’s West End production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

In 2008, Kingston guest-starred in the fourth series of the science fiction television programme Doctor Who in the two-part story “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead” as River Song. She reprised the role in fifteen episodes in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Kingston says she thought her role was simply a one-off, but was delighted that she would be a returning character. Kingston returned as the character in the 2015 Christmas special, “The Husbands of River Song” alongside Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor. In September 2008, Kingston took the part of Mrs. Bennet in ITV’s acclaimed four-part production Lost in Austen which is based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and also appeared in the police procedural drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in the season 9 episode, “Art Imitates Life” as Patricia Alwick, a psychiatrist and grief counsellor.

During 2009, Kingston portrayed Miranda Pond, a defence attorney in two episodes of the legal drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Kingston also starred as the lead character Ellie Lagden, one of four former convicts in the BBC One drama series Hope Springs And Had a recurring role in FlashForward, playing Inspector Fiona Banks. In 2010, Kingston returned to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the season 12 episode, “Trophy”. In 2011, Kingston appeared in the British supernatural series Marchlands, portraying Helen Maynard and also guest-starred in the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice as Marla Tompkins, a psychiatrist who writes book reviews for newspapers. Kingston appeared in Friedrich Schiller’s Luise Miller at the Donmar Warehouse in London. In 2013, Kingston appeared in Arrow, playing Professor Dinah Lance, the mother of Laurel and Sara Lance and also played Lady Macbeth opposite Kenneth Branagh in Macbeth at Manchester International Festival. Her performance was broadcast to cinemas on 20 July as part of National Theatre Live.She reprised the performance with Branagh at the Park Avenue Armory in New York in 2014. She also starred as Ruth Hattersley, an analyst working for the Missing Persons Bureau on the ITV mini-series drama Chasing Shadows.

John Wyndham

English Science Fiction Author John Wyndham sadly died 11 March 1969. He was born 10 July 1903 in the village of Dorridge near Knowle, Warwickshire (now West Midlands), England, the son of George Beynon Harris, a barrister, and Gertrude Parkes, the daughter of a Birmingham ironmaster. His early childhood was spent in Edgbaston in Birmingham, but when he was 8 years old his parents separated and he and his brother, the writer Vivian Beynon Harris, spent the rest of their childhood at a number of English preparatory and public schools, including Blundell’s School in Tiverton, Devon, during World War I. His longest and final stay was at Bedales School near Petersfield in Hampshire (1918–21), which he left at the age of 18, and where he blossomed and was happy.

After leaving school, Wyndham tried several careers, including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, but mostly relied on an allowance from his family. He eventually turned to writing for money in 1925 and, by 1931, was selling short stories and serial fiction to American science fiction magazines, most under the pen names “John Beynon” and “John Beynon Harris”, although he also wrote some detective stories including The Secret People (1935), as John Beynon, Foul Play Suspected (1935), as John Beynon and Planet Plane (1936), as John Beynon (a.k.a The Space Machine and Stowaway to Mars).

During World War II, Wyndham first served as a censor in the Ministry of Information, then joined the British Army, serving as a Corporal cipher operator in the Royal Corps of Signals. He participated in the Normandy landings, although he was not involved in the first days of the operation. After the war, Wyndham returned to writing, inspired by the success of his brother, who had four novels published. He altered his writing style; and, by 1951, using the John Wyndham pen name for the first time, he wrote the novel The Day of the Triffids. His pre-war writing career was not mentioned in the book’s publicity, and people were allowed to assume that it was a first novel from a previously unknown writer.

Novels published by John Wyndham include The Day of the Triffids (1951), also known as Revolt of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes (1953), published in the US as Out of the Deeps, The Chrysalids (1955), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), filmed twice as Village of the Damned, The Outward Urge (1959), Trouble with Lichen (1960) and Chocky, the Web and Plan for Chaos. Wyndham also published many Short story collections including Jizzle, The Seeds of Time, Tales of Gooseflesh and Laughter, Consider Her Ways and Others, The Infinite Moment, Sleepers of Mars, Worlds to Barter, Invisible Monster, The Man from Earth, the Third Vibrator, Wanderers of Time, Derelict of Space, Child of Power, The Last Lunarians, The Puff-ball Menace (a.k.a. Spheres of Hell), Exiles on Asperus, No Place Like Earth, The Lost Machine, The Venus Adventure” (1932), The Stare, The Moon Devils, The Cathedral Crypt, The Perfect Creature, Judson’s Annihilator and The Trojan Beam

In 1963, he married Grace Isobel Wilson, whom he had known for more than 20 years; the couple remained married until he died. He and Grace lived for several years in separate rooms at the Penn Club, London and later lived near Petersfield, Hampshire, just outside the grounds of Bedales School. He died in 1969, aged 65, at his home in Petersfield, survived by his wife and his brother.[5] Subsequently, some of his unsold work was published; and his earlier work was re-published. His archive was acquired by Liverpool University. On 24 May 2015 an alley in Hampstead that appears in The Day of the Triffids was formally named Triffid Alley as a memorial to him.

F.W.Murnau

Regarded as one of the most influential German film directors of the silent era, the German film director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau sadly died March 11, 1931. He was born 28th December in Bielefeld, Province of Westphalia. By the age of seven, he was living in Kassel, northern Hesse. He had two brothers, Bernhard and Robert, and two stepsisters, Ida and Anna. His mother, Otilie Volbracht, was the second wife of his father, Heinrich Plumpe, an owner of a cloth factory in the northwest part of Germany. Their villa was often turned into a stage for little plays, directed by the young Friedrich, who had already read books by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Ibsen plays by the age of 12. He took the pseudonym of “Murnau” from the town of that name near Lake Staffel, south of Munich, where he once lived for a period of time. At 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) tall, the young Murnau was said to have an icy, imperious disposition and an obsession with film. Murnau studied philology at the University in Berlin and later art history and literature in Heidelberg, where director Max Reinhardt saw him at a students’ performance and decided to invite him to his actor-school. He soon became a friend of Franz Marc (the Blue Rider artist based in Murnau), Else Lasker-Schüler and Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele.

During World War I Murnau served as a company commander at the eastern front, where he joined the Imperial German Flying Corps and flew missions in northern France for two years; surviving eight crashes without severe injuries. After landing in Switzerland, he was arrested and interned for the remainder of the war. In his POW camp he was involved with a prisoner theater group and wrote a film script.

After the end of World War One Murnau returned to Germany where he soon established his own film studio with actor Conrad Veidt. His first feature-length film, The Boy in Blue, was a drama inspired by the famous Thomas Gainsborough painting, and was released in 1919. He also explored the popular theme of dual personalities, like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for the 1920 film Der Janus-Kopf which starred Veidt and featured Bela Lugosi. Murnau went on to Become a prominent figure in the expressionist movement in German cinema during the 1920s.

Murnau’s best known work was his 1922 film NOSFERATU an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Although not a commercial success due to copyright issues with Stoker’s novel, the film was a considered a masterpiece of Expressionist artwork. He was also known for the 1924 film The Last Laugh and his interpretation of Goethe’s Faust (1926). F.W. Murnau later emigrated to Hollywood in 1926, where he joined the Fox Studio and made three films, including Sunrise (1927), Four Devils (1928) and City Girl (1930). In 1931 Murnau travelled to Bora Bora to make the film Tabu with documentary film pioneer Robert Flaherty. However Flaherty left following artistic disputes with Murnau who was left to finish the movie on his own.

Unfortunately though A week prior to the opening of the film Tabu, Murnau had an Automobile accident along the Pacific Coast Highway near Rincon Beach, south of Santa Barbara and subsequently died on 11 March 1931 from his injuries in a Santa Barbara hospital, California. However he has left behind an enduring legacy in the form of some fantastic films.

Ole Kirk Christiansen

Danish businessman and LEGO(Tm) creator Ole Kirk Christiansen, Sadly died On 11 March 1958, after suffering a heart attack when he was 66 years old. He was born 7 April 1891 in Filskov, Denmark. He trained as a carpenter and started making wooden toys in 1932 to make a living after having lost his job during the depression. Sadly though, shortly after the depression Christiansen’s wife also died, leaving him to raise his four sons by himself. Christiansen knew the value of hard wearing toys So to make ends meet he decided to construct a small wooden duck toy for his children. When he found that his sons loved the new toy he decided to put the ducks into production using the leftover wood from his old business. He then went on to making miniature versions of the houses and furniture, which also became quite successful.

Unfortunately though In 1942 a fire broke out at the factory destroying Ole’s life’s work and forcing them to rebuild from scratch. So in 1947 he invested in a revolutionary injection-moulding machine Imported from Britain in 1947 for 30,000 Danish kroner (£3,200). After Building a new factory, Ole set about re-making his lost designs and moved on to manufacturing plastic items rather than wood, these originally consisted of small plastic bears and rattles. By 1949 he had produced over 200 plastic and wooden toys. Then, two years after buying the injection-moulding machine, he produced the first Lego bricks, called Automatic Binding Bricks, they looked similar to today’s blocks but had a slit in the sides and were completely hollow. Ole Kirk Christiansen came up with the name Lego from the Danish words leg godt, meaning “play well”, and the company grew to become the Lego Group.

Then In 1954, Ole’s son Godtfred, the firm’s junior managing director returned from a UK toy fair with the idea of creating a toy system in which every element could connect together to build things, and by 1958 the firm had patented the colourful bricks with hollow tubes on the underside so they could be locked together and the story of the Lego brick began. Following his tragic death his third son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen promptly took over the company and developed his idea of interconnecting bricks culminating in The first Lego set, Town Plan No.1, which had everything a child needed to make their own model town centre, this became a huge success.

Since then Lego(tm) has grown to become a household name, annually selling many million sets worldwide. Then In 1968 they opened a theme park at their HQ in Billund, Denmark — the first of six worldwide. A year later came Lego Duplo for under-fives and in 1978 “minifigure” people. Since then, all manner of themed Lego sets have hit shelves, from pirates, Outer Space, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Ninjago to Harry Potter and today, eight Lego sets are sold every Second worldwide. The UK even has its own Legoland which opened in Windsor in 1996 and there are now Lego-only stores, Lego computer games including Lego batman. There are two rather entertaining LEGO Movies and even a clothing range.

Douglas Adams

Best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, English author Douglas Adams, was born in 11th March 1952 in Cambridge, England, and attended Primrose Hill Primary School in Brentwood. At nine, he passed the entrance exam for Brentwood School, an independent school whose alumni include Robin Day, Jack Straw, Noel Edmonds, and David Irving. Griff Rhys Jones was also a year below him. He attended the prep school from 1959 to 1964, then the main school until December 1970. He became the only student ever to be awarded a ten out of ten by Halford for creative writing, Some of his earliest writing was published at the school, such as reports or spoof reviews in the school magazine Broadsheet He also designed the cover of one issue of the Broadsheet, and had a letter and short story published nationally in The Eagle. in 1965, he was awarded a place at St John’s College, Cambridge to read English, Which he attended from 1971, though the main reason he applied to Cambridge was to join the Footlights, an invitation-only student comedy club that has acted as a hothouse for some of the most notable comic talent in England. he graduated from St. John’s in 1974 with a B.A. in English literature.

After university Adams moved back to London, determined to break into TV and radio as a writer. The Footlights Revue appeared on BBC2 television in 1974 and also performed live in London’s West End which led to Adams being discovered by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. The two formed a brief writing partnership, earning Adams a writing credit in episode 45 of Monty Python for a sketch called “Patient Abuse”, which plays on the idea of mind-boggling paper work in an emergency, a joke later incorporated into the Vogons’ obsession with paperwork. Adams also contributed to a sketch on the album for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. During this time Adams also continued to write and submit other sketches elesewhere, though few were accepted. In 1976 his career had a brief improvement when he wrote and performed, to good review, Unpleasantness at Brodie’s Close at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.Some of Adams’s early radio work included sketches for The Burkiss Way in 1977 and The News Huddlines. He also wrote the 20 February 1977 episode of the Doctor on the Go,television comedy series, with Graham Chapman, and later became the script editor for Doctor Who.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a concept for a science-fiction comedy radio series pitched by Adams and radio producer Simon Brett to BBC Radio 4 in 1977. Adams came up with an outline for a pilot episode, as well as a few other stories (reprinted in Neil Gaiman’s book Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion) that could potentially be used in the series. It started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy and a after the first radio series became successful, Adams was made a BBC radio producer, working on Week Ending and a pantomime called Black Cinderella Two Goes East. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was also developed into a series of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams’s contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy’s Hall of Fame.

Adams also wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988), and co-wrote The Meaning of Liff (1983), Last Chance to See (1990), and three stories for the television series Doctor Who. A posthumous collection of his work, including an unfinished novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002. Adams sent the script for the HHGG pilot radio programme to the Doctor Who production office in 1978, and was commissioned to write The Pirate Planet . He had also previously attempted to submit a potential movie script, which later became his novel Life, the Universe and Everything (which in turn became the third Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series). Adams then went on to serve as script editor on the show for its seventeenth season in 1979. Altogether, he wrote three Doctor Who serials starring Tom Baker as the Doctor: The Pirate Planet, City of Death and Shada Adams also allowed in-jokes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to appear in the Doctor Who stories he wrote and other stories on which he served as Script Editor. Elements of Shada and City of Death were also reused in Adams’s later novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Adams is also credited with introducing a fan and later friend of his, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, to Dawkins’s future wife, Lalla Ward, who had played the part of Romana in Doctor Who.

Adams also played the guitar left-handed and had a collection of twenty-four guitars when he died in 2001 and also studied piano in the 1960s with the same teacher as Paul Wickens, the pianist who plays in Paul McCartney’s band (and composed the music for the 2004–2005 editions of the Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series). The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Procol Harum all had important influence on Adams’s work. Adams included a direct reference to Pink Floyd in the original radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which he describes the main characters surveying the landscape of an alien planet while Marvin, their android companion, hums Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”. This was cut out of the CD version. Adams also compared the various noises that the kakapo makes to “Pink Floyd studio out-takes” in his nonfiction book on endangered species, Last Chance to See.

Adams’s official biography shares its name with the song “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. Adams was friends with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and, on the occasion of Adams’s 42nd birthday (the number 42 having special significance, being the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything and also Adams’s age when his daughter Polly was born), he was invited to make a guest appearance at Pink Floyd’s 28 October 1994 concert at Earls Court in London, playing guitar on the songs “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse”. Adams chose the name for Pink Floyd’s 1994 album, The Division Bell, by picking the words from the lyrics to one of its tracks, namely “High Hopes”.

Gilmour also performed at Adams’s memorial service following his death in 2001, and what would have been Adams’ 60th birthday party in 2012. Douglas Adams was also a friend of Gary Brooker, the lead singer, pianist and songwriter of the progressive rock band Procol Harum. Adams also appeared on stage with Brooker to perform “In Held Twas in I” at Redhill when the band’s lyricist Keith Reid was not available. Adams was also an advocate for environmental and conservation causes, and a lover of fast cars, cameras, and the Apple Macintosh, and was a staunch atheist. Biologist Richard Dawkins also dedicated his book, The God Delusion, to Adams, writing on his death that, “Science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender.