Seven Worlds, One Planet

The latest amazing BBC Natural History program Seven Worlds one planet is out on blu-ray and DVD. Narrated by David Attenborough It features some of the varied wildlife And environments which are present on the continents of planet Earth Asia, Africa, America, Europe and Antarctica and Explains how the animals that live there have all adapted to the different and extreme conditions which can be found on each continent, and managed to survive and in some cases flourish in some seemingly inhospitable conditions.

Episode one features Antarctica—the coldest, windiest, most hostile continent where Only the toughest can survive here. From Weddell seals that grind back the ice with their teeth, to colourful starfish carpeting the seabed beneath the ice. Huge colonies of king penguins crowd any ice-free land, and four tonne elephant seals fight for territory on the beach. Life comes here because the ocean that surrounds the continent is incredibly rich. However, the ocean here is warming and with that comes an uncertain future. Grey-headed albatross chicks battle for survival in the harsh gales of South Georgia, while southern right whales slowly recover from almost total annihilation at the hands of the whaling industry, and Gentoo penguins face a dangerous trek across uneven ice in order to get to the open ocean and feed without becoming food for leopard seals themselves. Antarctica is also host to the amazing spectacle of Thousands of penguins, seals, albatross, and over a hundred great whales feastIng on krill baitballs, whilst below the ice on the sea floor, an entire ecosystem of sea anemones, starfish, nudibranches, jellyfish and giant nematode worms live out their lives in the icy depths

Episode two features Asia—the most varied and extreme continent which stretches from the Arctic Circle to the equator. Walrus gather in huge numbers in the frozen north, risking death to escape polar bears. Brown bears roam remote Russian volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula, and orangutans climb high into the trees in the Indonesian rainforests in search of mango fruit. Blue faced snub-nosed monkeys search for fruit in the mountain forests of China While Camouflaged spider-tailed horned vipers lure migrating birds in the baking Lut desert in Iran in a most bizarre fashion , While The deep jungles provide sanctuary for the last few Sumatran rhino.

Episode three features South America—the most species rich continent on Earth. From the volcanoes of the Andes to the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon. In Patagonia, a puma mother attempts to catch prey three times her weight To feed her hungry cubs. In the cloud forest, rarely seen Andean bears clamber thirty metres into the canopy to find elusive fruit. Poison dart frogs use ingenious methods to keep their tadpoles safe, whilst anacondas stalk capuchin monkeys. At Igauzu, swifts nest behind one of the biggest waterfalls on Earth. and must make death-defying flights through It in order to catch food for their young, who in turn must fly through it when they are old enough

Episode four features Australia, a land cast adrift and Isolated for millions of years, where a large number of weird and wonderful animals Have evolved after having been marooned here. It features The cassowary, a six feet tall flightless and rather aggressive bird.  kangaroos and wombats Who brave snowstorms and gum tree forests Which are filled with never-before-seen predators, reptile who drink through their skin and huge flocks of wild budgerigars Who swirl in search of water. Tasmanian devils Who roam In search of prey Whilst offshore, thousands of sharks gather for a rare event.

Episode five features the continent of Europe where Above Gibraltar, Europe’s only primate The Barbary Ape, lives a life of kidnapping and high drama, whilst in Vienna Live churchyard-dwelling European hamsters. Wolves hunt in mountain villages in Italy’s Apennine Mountains, whilst Iberian lynx lurk in the forests of Spain. On the surface of the River Danube, voracious great white pelicans rob cormorants for their catches of fish. Deep underground in Slovenia’s caves, the Olm—a species of salamander once thought to be baby dragons—live for up to a hundred years, while every summer, Hungary’s Tisza River is host to a miraculous display of a giant mayfly’s fleeting life cycle. 

Episode six features North America which experiences extreme seasonal changeS including Tornados which roar across the prairies and Arctic air which sweeps through the humid, southern swamps. In the North Canada lynx prowl the snowy Yukon for snowshoe hares, whilst Florida manatees seek hot springs to escape the freeze. In the creeks of Tennessee, fish build spectacular underwater pyramids to find a mate. Fireflies light up the forests during summer nights, roadrunners cruise the spectacular deserts of Arizona and polar bears leap from rocks to hunt beluga whales.

Episode seven features the continent of Africa which is home to some of the greatest wildlife gatherings on Earth. In the jungles, young chimps learn to use tools to find food. Whilst On the savannah, a group of cheetah brothers team up to hunt prey twice their size. And, in crystal clear freshwater lakes, caring fish mothers are tricked by devious imposters. The hyena make epic treks to find food on the beach in the Namib Desert, whilst in the Kalahari, Desert the bizarre aardvark digs deep to find a meal.

Sadly it seems that for much of Earth’s wildlife the greatest threat comes from humans, who are threatening The survival of many animal species destroying Many acres of Jungle to create vast oil palm plantations And many animals  Have been walled in for their own safety against poachers and loggers. Nevertheless human intervention has helped the survival of a few species and efforts are being made to redress the balance and help wildlife recover.

LNER A3 PACIFIC 4-6-2 locomotive 4472 “Flying Scotsman”

The LNER Class A3 Pacific steam locomotive No. 4472 Flying Scotsman became the first Steam Locomotive to officially exceed 100mph on November 30 1934. The Flying Scotsman was built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works to a design of H.Nigel Gresley. It was employed on long-distance express trains on the LNER and its successors, British Railways Eastern and North-Eastern Regions, notably on the 10am London to Edinburgh Flying Scotsman train service after which it was named. The locomotive is notable for having set two world records for steam traction; becoming the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at reaching 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) on 30 November 1934, and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles (679 km) on 8 August 1938. It was retired from regular service in 1963 after covering 2,076,000 miles (3,341,000 km), Flying Scotsman gained considerable fame in preservation under the ownership of Alan Pegler, William McAlpine, Tony Marchington and finally the National Railway Museum. As well as hauling enthusiast specials in the United Kingdom, the locomotive toured extensively in the United States (from 1969 to 1973) and Australia (from 1988 to 1989).Flying Scotsman has been described as the world’s most famous steam locomotive.

The locomotive was completed in 1923, construction having been started under the auspices of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). It was built as an A1, initially carrying the GNR number 1472, because the LNER had not yet decided on a system-wide numbering scheme’ Flying Scotsman was something of a flagship locomotive for the LNER. It represented the company at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924 and 1925. Before this event, in February 1924 it acquired its name and the new number of 4472. From then on it was commonly used for promotional purposes.With suitably modified valve gear, this locomotive was one of five Gresley Pacifics selected to haul the prestigious non-stop Flying Scotsman train service from London to Edinburgh, hauling the inaugural train on 1 May 1928. For this the locomotives ran with a new version of the large eight-wheel tender which held 9 tons of coal. This and the usual facility for water replenishment from the water trough system enabled them to travel the 392 miles (631 km) from London to Edinburgh in eight hours non-stop. The tender included a corridor connection and tunnel through the water tank giving access to the locomotive cab from the train to permit replacement of the driver and fireman without stopping the train. The following year the locomotive appeared in the film The Flying Scotsman. On 30 November 1934, running a light test train, 4472 became the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph (160.9 km/h) and earned a place in the land speed record for railed vehicles; the publicity-conscious LNER made much of the fact.

On 22 August 1928, there appeared an improved version of this Pacific type classified A3; older A1 locomotives were later rebuilt to conform. On 25 April 1945, A1-class locomotives not yet rebuilt were reclassified A10 in order to make way for newer Thompson and Peppercorn Pacifics. Flying Scotsman emerged from Doncaster works on 4 January 1947 as an A3, having received a boiler with the long “banjo” dome of the type it carries today. By this time it had been renumbered twice: under Edward Thompson’scomprehensive renumbering scheme for the LNER, it became no. 502 in January 1946; but in May the same year, under an amendment to that plan, it become no. 103. Following nationalisation of the railways on 1 January 1948, almost all of the LNER locomotive numbers were increased by 60000, and no. 103 duly became 60103 in December 1948. Between 5 June 1950 and 4 July 1954, and between 26 December 1954 and 1 September 1957, under British Railways ownership, it was allocated to Leicester Central shed on the Great Central, running Nottingham Victoria to London Marylebone services via Leicester Central.All A3 Pacifics were subsequently fitted with a double Kylchap chimney to improve performance and economy. This caused soft exhaust and smoke drift that tended to obscure the driver’s forward vision; the remedy was found in the German-type smoke deflectors fitted from 1960, which somewhat changed the locomotives’ appearance but solved the problem

In 1963 Flying Scotsman Number 60103 finished working. A Proposal to save it was made by a group called “Save Our Scotsman”, they were unable to raise the required £3,000. Luckily Alan Pegler, Having first seen the locomotive at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, bought Flying Scotsman using money he had received for his share holding when Northern Rubber was sold to Pegler’s Valves. He spent the next few years spending large amounts of money having the locomotive restored at Doncaster Works as closely as possible to its LNER condition: the smoke deflectors were removed; the double chimney was replaced by a single chimney; and the tender was replaced by one of the corridor type with which the locomotive had run between 1928 and 1936. It was also repainted into LNER livery, although the cylinder sides were painted green, whereas in LNER days they were always black. Peglar then persuaded the British Railways Board to let him run enthusiasts specials, And it worked a number of rail tours, including a non-stop London–Edinburgh run in 1968 – the year steam traction officially ended on BR. Then in September 1966 Pegler purchased a second corridor tender, and adapted as an auxiliary water tank; retaining its through gangway, this was coupled behind the normal tender.

Pegler had a contract permitting him to run his locomotive on BR until 1972, but following overhaul in the winter of 1968–69 then Prime Minister Wilson agreed to support Pegler running the locomotive in the United States and Canada to support British exports. To comply with local railway regulations, it was fitted with: acowcatcher; bell; buckeye couplings; American-style whistle air brakes; and high-intensity headlamp. the tour ran into immediate problems, with some states seeing the locomotive as a fire-hazard. However, the train ran from Boston to New York, Washington and Dallas in 1969; from Texas to Wisconsin and finishing in Montreal in 1970; and from Toronto to San Francisco in 1971 — a total of 15,400 miles (24,800 km).However, in 1970 Ted Heath’s Conservatives ousted Wilson’s Labour Party, and withdrew financial support from the tour; but Pegler decided to return for the 1970 season. By the end of that season’s tour, the money had run out and Pegler was £132,000 in debt, with the locomotive in storage at the U.S. ArmySharpe Depot to keep it away from unpaid creditors.Pegler worked his passage home from San Francisco to England on a P&O cruise ship in 1971, giving lectures about trains and travel; he was declared bankrupt in the High Court 1972. Fears then arose for the engine’s future, the speculation being that it could take up permanent residence in America or even be cut up. However in January 1973, William McAlpine stepped in and bought the locomotive for £25,000. After its return to the UK via the Panama Canal in February 1973 the locomotive Was restored at Derby Works. Trial runs took place on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway in summer 1973, after which it was transferred to Steamtown (Carnforth).

In October 1988 the locomotive arrived in Australia to take part Australia’s bicentenery celebrations as a central attraction in the Aus Steam ’88 festival. During the course of the next year it travelled more than 45,000 kilometres (28,000 mi) over Australian rails, concluding with a return transcontinental run from Sydney to Perth via Alice Springs. Other highlights included Flying Scotsman double-heading with NSWGR Paific locomotive 3801, a triple-parallel run alongside broad gauge Victorian Railways R class locomotives, parallel runs alongside South Australian Railways locomotives 520and 621, and a reunion with GWR 4073 Class Pendennis Castle in Perth. On 8 August 1989 Flying Scotsman set another record en route to Alice Springs from Sydney, travelling 679 kilometres (422 mi) from Parkes to Broken Hill non-stop, the longest such run by a steam locomotive ever recorded. A plaque was affixed to the engine To record the event.

Flying Scotsman Returned to the UK, by 1995 and was stored at Southall Railway Centre in West London. The locomotive was now owned by a consortium that included McAlpine as well as music guru and well-known railway enthusiast Pete Waterman. Facing an uncertain future owing to the cost of restoration and refurbishment , salvation came in 1996 when Dr Tony Marchington, bought the locomotive, and had it restored over three years to running condition at a cost of £1 million. Sadly in September 2003 Marchington was declared bankrupt and CEO Peter Butler stated that the company only had enough cash to trade until April 2004. The locomotive was then bought in April 2004 by the National Railway Museum in York, and it is now part of the National Collection. it ran for a while to raise funds for its forthcoming 10-year major boiler recertification In January 2006, Flying Scotsman entered the Museum’s workshops for a major overhaul to return it to Gresley’s original specification and renew its boiler certificate. In 2013 The locomotive was moved to Bury work to return it to running condition by 2015. Sadly because the repairs proved prohibitively expensive, this took longer than expected and once again Flying Scotsman’s future looked uncertain. However It was rebuilt And LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman has Since visited a number of events, including the Severn Valley Railway for the Pacific Power event alongside LNER A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado during 2016 and it continues to be a big crowdpleaser. I Actually saw 60163 Tornado yesterday (29 November 2019) in the Yard at Bridgnorth, however I digress.

Jonathan Swift

Satirist, essayist, poet and cleric Jonathan Swift was born 30 November 1667. He is remembered for works such as Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift’s family had several interesting literary connections: His grandmother, Elizabeth (Dryden) Swift, was the niece of Sir Erasmus Dryden, grandfather of the poet John Dryden. The same grandmother’s aunt, Katherine (Throckmorton) Dryden, was a first cousin of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. His great-great grandmother, Margaret (Godwin) Swift, was the sister of Francis Godwin, author of The Man in the Moone which influenced parts of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. His uncle, Thomas Swift, married a daughter of the poet and playwright Sir William Davenant, a godson of William Shakespeare. He is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms – such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, MB Drapier – or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

In February 1702, Swift received his Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, Dublin. He then traveled to England and returned to Ireland in October, accompanied by Esther Johnson and his friend Rebecca Dingley, another member of William Temple’s household. During his visits to England in these years Swift published A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books (1704) and began to gain a reputation as a writer. This led to close, lifelong friendships with Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, forming the core of the Martinus Scriblerus Club.

Swift also went to London many times & was recruited by The Tory Party to support their cause as editor of The Examiner. In 1711, Swift published the political pamphlet “The Conduct of the Allies & became part of the inner circle of the Tory government, and often acted as mediator between Henry St John (Viscount Bolingbroke) the secretary of state for foreign affairs (1710–15) and Robert Harley (Earl of Oxford) lord treasurer and prime minister (1711–14).

Following the death of Queen Anne in 1714 and accession of George I, the Tory leaders were tried for treason for conducting secret negotiations with France, so Swift returned to Ireland, where he began to support of Irish causes, producing some of his most memorable works: Proposal for Universal Use of Irish Manufacture (1720), Drapier’s Letters (1724), and A Modest Proposal (1729), earning him the status of an Irish patriot. He began writing Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships, better known as Gulliver’s Travels.

In 1726 Jonathan Swift visited London again, staying with his old friends Alexander Pope, John Arbuthnot and John Gay, who helped him arrange for the anonymous publication of Gulliver’s Travels in 1726. It was immediately successful and was translated into. French, German, and Dutch. Swift returned to England in 1727 but The visit was cut short when Swift received word that Esther Johnson was dying and he rushed back home to be with her. On 28 January 1728, Esther Johnson died. Sadly After this, Death became a frequent feature in Swift’s life. In 1731 he wrote Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift. In 1738 Swift began to show signs of illness, and in 1742 he may have suffered a stroke, losing the ability to speak. Swift sadly passed away on 19 October 1745 (aged 77), and was buried in his own cathedral by Esther Johnson’s side, in accordance with his wishes. The bulk of his fortune (twelve thousand pounds) was left to found a hospital for the mentally ill, which opened in 1757. There have also been many film Animation and Television adaptations made of of the novel. including the 1939 version, a Hallmark version starring Ted Danson as Lemuel Gulliver, and the most recent one starring Jack Black.

Mark Twain

American Author Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was Born November 30, 1835. he is Most noted for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “the Great American Novel.” Mark Twain was born during a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well. he grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

At first He apprenticed with a printer. Where He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion’s newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. He then turned to journalism and while a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which became very popular and brought nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.

Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humour, sturdy narrative and social criticism. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech which helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain’s works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has repeatedly been restricted in American high schools, for its frequent use of words now considered racist which were in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set. Although He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker, with his wit and satire earning him praise from presidents, artists, industrialists, European royalty, critics and peers alike, he lacked financial acumen, and although he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures,and was often forced to declare bankruptcy.

Twain’s first important work, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” was first published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. Next, he was commissioned to write letters about his travel experiences, chronicling his experiences with his burlesque humour. The first journey he took was to ride the steamer Ajax in its maiden voyage to Hawaii. These humorous letters proved the genesis to his work with the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, which designated him a traveling correspondent for a trip from San Francisco to New York City via the Panama isthmus. This trip resulted in The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims’ Progress. This is a record of a pleasure trip, written as If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition having the gravity, profundity, and impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind.

In 1872, Twain published a second piece of travel literature, Roughing It, as a semi-sequel to Innocents. This was a semi-autobiographical account of Twain’s journey to Nevada and his subsequent life in the American West. The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East. Twain’s next work. Entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today was not a travel piece, as his previous two books had been, it focused more on the events of the day in American society, and was his first attempt at writing a novel. The book is also notable because it is Twain’s only collaboration; it was written with his neighbor Charles Dudley Warner. Twain’s next two works drew on his experiences on the Mississippi River. Old Times on the Mississippi, was a series of sketches published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1875, which featured Twain’s disillusionment with Romanticism. It eventually became the starting point for Life on the Mississippi.

Twain’s next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which drew on his youth in Hannibal. Modelled on Twain as a child, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduced Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain’s boyhood friend Tom Blankenship. His next book, The Prince and the Pauper, was not as well received. It Tells the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, who switch places. Pauper was Twain’s first attempt at historical fiction, and blame for its shortcomings is usually put on Twain for having not been experienced enough in English society, and also on the fact that it was produced after a massive hit. Twain’s next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy’s belief in the right thing to do, even though most believed that it was wrong.

Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, this recounts Twain’s memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi. Twain’s last work was his autobiography, which he dictated and thought would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-chronological order. Some archivists and compilers have rearranged the biography into more conventional forms, thereby eliminating some of Twain’s humour and the flow of the book.

Mark Twain sadly passed away April 21 1910 however Mark Twain’s novels remain popular and are regarded by many as classics of American Literature. This enduring popularity has helped him become one of very few authors publishing new best-selling volumes in all 3 of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer have also both been adapted for film and Television.

Ridley Scott

British film director and producer Sir Ridley Scott was born 30 November 1937 in South Shields, County Durham, North East England. After World War II, the Scott family moved back to their native North East, eventually settling on Greens Beck Road in Hartburn, County Durham, whose industrial landscape would later inspire similar scenes in Blade Runner. His interest in science fiction began by reading the works of H. G. Wells as a child. He studied at Grangefield Grammar School and West Hartlepool College of Art from 1954 to 1958, obtaining a diploma in design.

BladeScott went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London, contributing to college magazine ARK and helping to establish the college film department. For his final show, he made a black and white short film, Boy and Bicycle, starring both his younger brother and his father (the film was later released on the “Extras” section of The Duellists DVD). In February 1963 Scott was named in title credits as “Designer” for the BBC television programme Tonight, about the severe winter of 1963. After graduation in 1963, he secured a job as a trainee set designer with the BBC, leading to work on the popular television police series Z-Cars and science fiction series Out of the Unknown. He was originally assigned to design the second Doctor Who serial, The Daleks, which would have entailed realising the serial’s eponymous alien creatures. However, shortly before Scott was due to start work, a schedule conflict meant he was replaced by Raymond Cusick. In 1965, he began directing episodes of television series for the BBC, only one of which, an episode of Adam Adamant Lives!, is available commercially.

In 1968, Ridley and Tony Scott founded Ridley Scott Associates (RSA), a film and commercial production company. Working alongside Alan Parker, Hugh Hudson and cinematographer Hugh Johnson, Ridley Scott made many commercials at RSA during the 1970s, including a notable 1973 Hovis advertisement, “Bike Round” (underscored by the slow movement of Dvořák’s “New World” symphony rearranged for brass), set in the north of England but filmed in Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset. A nostalgia themed television advertisement that captured the public imagination, it was voted the UK’s all-time favourite commercial in a 2006 pol. In the 1970s Scott directed advert for the Chanel No. 5 brand. Chanel television commercials were inventive mini-films with production values of surreal fantasy and seduction, which “played on the same visual imagery, with the same silhouette of the bottle. Following his commercial breakthrough with the science-fiction horror film Alien (1979), his best known works include the neo-noir dystopian science fiction film Blade Runner (1982), historical drama and Best Picture Oscar winner Gladiator (2000), and science fiction film The Martian (2015).

Scott’s directorial debut was The Duellists (1977) Shot in Europe, it was nominated for the main prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and won an award for Best Debut Film. The Duellists is Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it follows two French Hussar officers, D’Hubert and Feraud (Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel) whose quarrel over an initially minor incident turns into a bitter extended feud spanning fifteen years, interwoven with the larger conflict that provides its backdrop.

After seeing Star Wars, Scott became convinced of the potential of large scale, effects-driven films. He accepted the job of directing Alien, the 1979 horror/science-fiction film that would win him international success. Scott made the decision to switch Ellen Ripley from the standard male action hero to a heroine Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver), who appeared in the first four Alien films, would become a cinematic icon. The final scene of John Hurt’s character has been named by a number of publications as one of the most memorable in cinematic history. Scott later returned to Alien-related projects when he directed Prometheus and Alien: Covenant three decades after the original film’s release.

In 1982 Scott directed the classic science fiction film Blade Runner. A dystopian neo-noir film based on the Philip K.Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which featured Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer,Joanna Cassidy and Robin Wright. The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work in hazardous environments on off-world colonies. However some escape and Those that escape and return to Earth are hunted down and “retired” by special police operatives known as Blade Runners. Harrison Ford portrays one such Blade Runner named Rick Deckard who is informed by his supervisor Bryant that four Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 Replicants named Leon, Roy Batty, Zhora, and Pris. have come to Earth illegally. Although these Replicants only have a four-year lifespan they are extremely dangerous and are seeking ways to extend their lifespan and Deckard must hunt hem down before they reach the Tyrell Corporation and start killing people.

In 1985, Scott directed The fantasy film Legend, produced by Arnon Milchan. Scott decided to create a “once upon a time” tale set in a world of princesses, unicorns and goblins, filming almost entirely inside the studio. Scott cast Tom Cruise as the film’s hero, Jack, Mia Sara as Princess Lili and Tim Curry as the diabolical Satan-horned Lord of Darkness who instructs his goblins Blix (Alice Playten) Pox (Peter O’Farrell) and Blunder (Kiran Shah) to kill the unicorns who safeguard the Power of Light and bring him their horns to free himself. Meanwhile, Princess Lily (Mia Sara), a mischievous and vibrant girl goes alone to the forest to meet her love interest Jack (Tom Cruise) he shows her the unicorns However Lily approaches the stallion to stroke him, with tragic results which cause an apocalyptic winter. Lily discovers the Goblins sinister plot involving the Unicorns and the Prince of Darkness. Meanwhile Jack encounters the hot-headed elf Honeythorn Gump (David Bennent, voiced by Alice Playten). Joined by Gump, the fairy Oona (Annabelle Lanyon), and the dwarves Brown Tom and Screwball (Cork Hubbert and Billy Barty), Jack sets off on a perilous quest to rescue the unicorn encountering many hazards along the way including The swamp hag Meg Mucklebones (Robert Picardo), before confronting the sinister Prince of Darkness himself.

In 1987 Scott made Someone to Watch Over Me, a romantic thriller starring Tom Berenger and Mimi Rogers and Black Rain (1989), a police drama starring Michael Douglas and Andy García, which was shot partially in Japan. In 1991 Ridley Scott directed the Road movie Thelma & Louise starring Geena Davis as Thelma, Susan Sarandon as Louise, and Brad Pitt as J.D, for which Scott received his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director. Ridley Scott’s next project, was the historical epic 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Which recounts the expeditions to the Americas by Christopher Columbus (Gérard Depardieu). In 1993 Ridley and Tony Scott created the Production Company Scott Free and In 1995 the two brothers purchased a controlling interest in the British film studio Shepperton Studios. In 2001, Shepperton merged with Pinewood Studios to become The Pinewood Studios Group.

In 2000 Scott directed the epic historical drama Gladiator starring Russell Crowe, Richard Harris, Joaquin Phoenix and Oliver Reed. The film proved to be one of his biggest critical and commercial successes. It won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for the film’s star Russell Crowe, and saw Scott nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director was named the fifth best action film of all time in the ABC special Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time. Gladiator was dedicated to actor Oliver Reed who tragically died during filming. In 2001 Scott directed Hannibal starring Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector. Scott’s next film, Black Hawk Down was based on a group of stranded US soldiers fighting for their lives in Somalia, and saw him receive a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director. In 2003, Scott directed a smaller scale project, Matchstick Men, adapted from the novel by Eric Garcia and starring Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman.

In 2005 he directed another epic historical drama Kingdom of Heaven which took place during the 12 Century Crusades to reclaim the Holy Land, and Starred Orlando Bloom as a knight tasked with reclaiming Jerusalem. Scott’s collaborate with Harry Gregson-Williams for the music. However Scott was Unhappy with the theatrical release of Kingdom of Heaven so he supervised a director’s cut of the film, the true version of what he wanted which added 45 minutes and received widespread critical acclaim. In 2006Scott teamed up again with Gladiator star Russell Crowe, for A Good Year, based on the best-selling book by Peter Mayle about an investment banker who finds a new life in Provence. Scott’s next film was American Gangster, this was based on the story of real-life drug kingpin Frank Lucas and Starred Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas, and Russell Crowe as Richie Roberts. Scott was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director for American Gangster. In 2008, Scott directed the espionage thriller Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Then in 2010 Scott directed a revisionist, gritty and more realistic adaptation of Robin Hood, which starred Russell Crowe as Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian.

In 2012 Ridley Scott directed the science fiction film Prometheus starring Noomi Rapace as scientist Elizabeth Shaw, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender. This served as a sort of prequel to the film Alien, which concerns an ill-fated mission to discover the origins of mankind and explain the origins of the alien Xenomorphs. In 2009, Scott also planned to direct an adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World set in a dystopian London with Leonardo DiCaprio, Also In 2009, the TV Series The Good Wife premiered with Ridley and his brother Tony credited as executive producers. As part of the buildup to the 2012 London Olympics, Scott also produced Britain in a Day, a documentary film consisting of footage shot by the British public. In 2012, Scott produced the commercial for Lady Gaga’s fragrance, “Fame” and In 2013, Scott’s series Crimes of the Century debuted on CNN. In 2013 Scott produced the documentary, Springsteen & I directed by Baillie Walsh and inspired by Life in a Day, which Scott also produced. The film featured fan footage from throughout the world on what musician Bruce Springsteen meant to them and how he impacted their lives.

In 2013 Scott directed The Counselor with a screenplay by author Cormac McCarthy. He was also heavily involved in developing an adaptation of the author’s 1985 novel Blood Meridian with screenwriter Bill Monahan (The Departed) however McCarthy did not want to make it. In 2014 Ridley Scott directed the exciting biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings, starring Christian Bale and Directed the film The Martian in 2015, based on the novel of the same name and starring Matt Damon as stranded astronaut Mark Watney alongside Jessica Chastain as the Mission Commander on an ill-fated space mission to Mars. The Martian was a critical and commercial success, grossed over $630 million worldwide, becoming Scott’s highest-grossing film to date.

Next Ridley Scott directed Alien: Covenant, which was A sequel to the film Prometheus, and premiered in 2017. It starred Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup and Katherine Waterston. This features the crew of the colony ship the Covenant who are bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, when they receive a distress signal from a supposedly uninhabited planet and go to investigate. They discover what happened to the crew of Prometheus and the planets original inhabitants but soon end up wishing they hadn’t,

 

Next Ridley Scott acted as Executive Producer for a sequel to the dystopian science fiction film Blade Runner entitled Blade Runner 2049 starring Harrison Ford and Ryan Reynolds, which was released in 2017 and was directed by Denis Villeneuve. During 2017, Scott also filmed All the Money in the World, a drama about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, starring Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams. Ridley Scott is currently in negotiations to direct the screen version of the 1968 British TV series The Prisoner. Ridley Scott and Drew Goddard (who had worked together on The Martian) are also adapting the book Wraiths of the Broken Land by S. Craig Zahler. It is described as a piece of fiction that combines elements of “horror, noir, and Asian ultra-violence.” Scott is also due to direct a film about the Battle of Britain. Scott has also said that he would film a sequel to Alien: Covenant which is the final film in his prequel series to his original film, Alien.

Ridley Scott has also worked on a number of Television shows. Between 2005 and 2010 Scott and his brother produced CBS crime drama series Numb3rs about a genius mathematician who helps the FBI solve crimes and The Good Wife (2009–2016), a legal drama about an attorney balancing her job with her husband, a former state attorney trying to rebuild his political career after a major scandal. The two Scotts also produced a 2010 film adaptation of 1980s television show The A-Team, directed by Joe Carnahan. Scott was also an executive producer of the first season of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, which is adapted from the Philip K.Dick novel of the same name and takes place in an alternate timeline where Germany won World War II. Scott also serves as executive producer on the dark comic science-fiction series BrainDead. Scott is currently collaborating with Amazon and AMC studios on an adaptation of Dan Simmons’ dark historical fiction novel, “The Terror” (a speculative retelling of the ill-fated 1845 expedition to find the fabled “Northwest Passage” with elements of horror and supernatural fiction).

Scott has been nominated for a number of awards including three Academy Awards for Directing (for Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down). In 1995, both Ridley and his brother Tony received a BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema. In 2003, Scott was knighted for his “services to the British film industry”. In a 2004 BBC poll Scott was named the tenth most influential person in British culture. In 2015 he received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London.

Oscar Wilde

Prolific Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde Sadly died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six on 30th November 1900. He was Born 16 October 1854. Wilde’s parents were successful Dublin intellectuals. Their son became fluent in French and German early in life. At university Wilde read Greats; he proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Dublin, then at Oxford. He became known for his involvement in the rising philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin.

After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new “English Renaissance in Art”, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, Wilde had become one of the most well-known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890).

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a cautionary tale which concerns a handsome young man named Dorian Gray, who has his portrait painted by artist Basil Hallward while listening to the ideas of hedonistic Lord Henry Wotton Dorian begins to think that beauty is the only aspect of life worth pursuing. This prompts Dorian to wish that the painted image of himself would age instead of himself.

Under the hedonist and corruptive influence of Lord Henry, Dorian fully explores his sensuality. He discovers the actress Sibyl Vane, who performs Shakespeare plays in a dingy, working-class theatre. Dorian approaches and courts her, and soon proposes marriage. The enamoured Sibyl calls him “Prince Charming”, and swoons with the happiness of being loved, but her protective brother, James, warns that if “Prince Charming” harms her, he will murder him. Dorian invites Basil and Lord Henry to see Sibyl perform in Romeo and Juliet. Sibyl, too enamoured with Dorian to act, performs poorly, which makes both Basil and Lord Henry think Dorian has fallen in love with Sibyl because of her beauty instead of her acting talent. Embarrassed, Dorian rejects Sibyl, telling her that acting was her beauty; without that, she no longer interests him. On returning home, Dorian notices that the portrait has changed; his wish has come true, and the man in the portrait bears a subtle sneer of cruelty.

Conscience-stricken and lonely, Dorian decides to reconcile with Sibyl, but he is too late, as Lord Henry informs him that Sibyl has committed suicide by swallowing prussic acid. Dorian locks the portrait up, and over the following eighteen years, he experiments with every vice, influenced by a morally poisonous French novel that Lord Henry Wotton gave him. One night, before leaving for Paris, Basil goes to Dorian’s house to ask him about rumours of his self-indulgent debauchery, and Dorian takes Basil to see the portrait. The portrait has become so hideous that Basil is only able to identify it as his work by the signature he affixes to all his portraits. Basil is horrified, and beseeches Dorian to pray for salvation. In anger, Dorian blames his fate on Basil, and stabs him to death. Dorian then calmly blackmails an old friend, the scientist Alan Campbell, into using his knowledge of chemistry to destroy the body of Basil Hallward.

To escape the guilt of his crime, Dorian goes to an opium den, where James Vane is present. James had been seeking vengeance upon Dorian ever since Sibyl killed herself. In the opium den he hears someone refer to Dorian as “Prince Charming”, and he accosts Dorian. Dorian deceives James into believing that he is too young to have known Sibyl, who killed herself 18 years earlier, as his face is still that of a young man. James relents and releases Dorian, but is then approached by a woman from the opium den who reproaches James for not killing Dorian. She confirms that the man was Dorian Gray and explains that he has not aged in 18 years. James runs after Dorian, but he has gone.

James then begins to stalk Dorian, causing Dorian to fear for his life. However, during a shooting party, a hunter accidentally kills James Vane, who was lurking in a thicket. On returning to London, Dorian tells Lord Henry that he will live righteously from now on. His new probity begins with deliberately not breaking the heart of the naïve Hetty Merton, his current romantic interest. Dorian wonders if his new-found goodness has reverted the corruption in the picture, but when he looks he sees only an even uglier image of himself. From that, Dorian understands that his true motives for the self-sacrifice of moral reformation were the vanity and curiosity of his quest for new experiences. Deciding that only full confession will absolve him of wrongdoing, Dorian decides to destroy the last vestige of his conscience, and the only piece of evidence remaining of his crimes – the picture. So he takes the knife with which he murdered Basil Hallward, and stabs the picture, however this has unexpected results…

Oscar Wilde then wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but it was refused a licence. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, making him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London. At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry, the father of his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, prosecuted for libel, a charge carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison. Unfortunately The trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour.

In prison he wrote De Profundis (written in 1897 and published in 1905), a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, Books and plays many of which remain popular and have been adapted for Radio, Television and film numerous times.

Evel Knievel

Legendary American motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel Sadly died of pulmonary disease on November 30th, 2007 in Clearwater, Florida, aged 69. He was Born in Butte, Montana on October 17, 1938. He was raised by his grandparents. After watching a Joie Chitwood auto daredevil show as a child, he took to jumping using a pedal bike, later moving on to motorbikes. As a troubled youth, he earned his stagename after occupying a jail cell next to a man named Knofel, leading the jailer to refer to the pair as Awful Knofel and Evil Knievel (Knievel later changed the spelling of the first name to Evel). In addition to stunt riding at local shows, his early life including a spell in the United States Army at the behest of a magistrate, as well as jobs as a hunting guide and an insurance salesman, while also becoming an ice-hockey team owner. Knievel notably staged an exhibition match against the Czechoslovakian hockey team ahead of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

After moving into sports full time, he had moderate success on the motocross circuit. Knievel moved into the entertainment business in 1966 by setting up his own touring daredevil show, initially using a variety of performers and later converting it to a solo show with his jumps as the center-piece. He came to national attention when he persuaded the owners of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to let him jump their fountains on New Year’s Eve 1967. After a failed landing, which was caught on film, Knievel spent 29 days in a coma. After his recovery, he continued to make high profile and lucrative jumps, and began lobbying the government for permission to jump the Grand Canyon. Unable to obtain permission, he settled on a jump over the Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho, which he attempted on September 8, 1974 in the X-2 Skycycle. The parachute deployed immediately after launch and the vehicle crashed just a few feet away from the river’s edge. Knievel suffered minor injuries and avoided drowning. Knievel then traveled to Britain, and on May 26, 1975, attempted to jump 13 buses in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, again crashing with severe injuries. His longest completed career jump came at Kings Island theme park in Ohio on October 25, 1975, jumping 14 buses, marking his peak television audience.

In 1977, Knievel served six months in jail for assaulting promoter Shelly Saltman for writing an unflattering book. After this conviction, Knievel’s career suffered, causing him to declare bankruptcy following a $13 million award for damages to Saltman. After cancelling an attempt to jump a tank full of live sharks in Chicago after injuring a cameraman during a practice jump, Knievel eventually withdrew from doing major shows. He instead concentrated on touring with and training his son Robbie Knievel, also a daredevil, eventually making his last jump in March 1981.

Knievel’s nationally televised motorcycle jumps were four of the twenty most-watched ABC’s Wide World of Sports events to date. He became a celebrity, recognizable for his use of a Stars-and-Stripes red, white and blue V-shaped set of motorcycle leathers and cape. On the back of this fame, Knievel gained endorsements from Harley-Davidson and a toy line by the Ideal Toy Company. He was also the subject of A 1971 film Evel Knievel which starred George Hamilton as Knievel, and he starred as himself in the 1977 film Viva Knievel!. Knievel later said of his career that he had “earned $60 million, and spent $62 million”. In total he attempted over 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980, and in 1974, a failed jump across Snake River Canyon in the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket. The 35 broken bones he suffered during his career also earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. According to the obituary in The Times Newspaper , Knievel was one of the greatest American icons of the 1970s and was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999