Richard Osman in Matt Hancock jibe as he admits health secretary boosts Pointless viewers

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Richard Osman has opened up about the effect lockdown has had on Pointless, which he hosts alongside Alexander Armstrong. The BBC presenter said the programme is in “trouble” if Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is doing the daily Government update at the same time.

If we’re up against Matt Hancock our ratings shoot up, but when it’s Rishi Sunak we’re in trouble

Richard Osman

However, the 49-year-old claimed the opposite happens if Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, is the one on screens.

Speaking in a new interview with the Radio Times, the small screen favourite said they have seen “ratings shoot up” during the pandemic.

While Alexander, 50, said he has experienced a different reaction from the general public when out and about.

When asked about the country quizzing in lockdown and if Pointless had gained a new audience, Richard agreed.


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He started: “It’s a good question, because daytime TV has very healthy audiences, but now everyone’s watching.

“Pointless is definitely getting a new audience, although we’re up against Boris Johnson or Matt Hancock sometimes.”

Richard continued by comparing Rishi, 40, to rival show host on ITV’s The Chase.

He continued: “If we’re up against Matt Hancock our ratings shoot up, but when it’s Rishi Sunak we’re in trouble. He’s very much the Bradley Walsh of the Cabinet.”

Alexander then stated: “It’s hard to be sure if these are new people coming to Pointless – I’m absolutely certain that’s true, but when you go out on the street, you’re not being stopped by quite so many people for selfies, for reasons I can’t understand.

“Maybe it’s the face mask, I don’t know – but we’re not getting the daily feedback.”

The duo have fronted Pointless ever since it launched back in August 2009, after first meeting while at university.

The show has now had more than 1,000 episodes, with the big moment being celebrated in Janaury 2017.

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Meanwhile, the TV stars also reflected on how they are surviving lockdown in the chat.

“Well, I decided to take six months off to write my second novel,” Richard stated.

“I’m wearing gloves more often than I imagined.”

After Alexander agreed he does wear gloves “a lot”, his pal added: “The thing is, this is an incredibly difficult time for a huge amount of people.

Full interview in Radio Times [RADIO TIMES]

“I’m very fortunate, my kids are older so there’s no home schooling, I have a job and I’m one of nature’s introverts. I think I’ve been very lucky.”

On his own experience, Alexander said: “I’m also incredibly lucky – I’m really glad we’ve got a garden. It’s been useful just to get my head back into family life and actually to genuinely participate in my children’s schooling.”

“I feel I will look back very fondly on the time I’ve spent with them.”

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times – out now.

Pointless continues today at 5.15pm on BBC Two.

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World News

Coronavirus UK LIVE: Dominic Cummings ‘doesn’t regret’ 260-mile trip to Durham as deaths rise to 36,852 – The Sun

DOMINIC Cummings has defended his 260-mile trip to Durham during lockdown.
Boris Johnson's top aide said he had done nothing wrong after being accused of breaking the lockdown three times to see his family.

In the first rose garden speech since the coalition years, Mr Cummings' said: "Yesterday I gave a full account to the Prime Minister of my actions between the 27th of March and the 14th of April.

"I should have made this statement earlier.

"I did not ask the PM about this decision

"He was ill himself and huge problems to deal with."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his top aide and refused to ask him to resign during Sunday's press conference.

Meanwhile, the UK death toll rose to 36,852 with 59 more deaths in England alone.

Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates…


    “I took expert medical advice on 11 April – day 14 of symptoms – about returning to work and was told that was okay and I wasn't a danger to the public.


    When quizzed on whether he thought about resigning “I've not considered it.”


    When quizzed on breaking rules, Dominic Cummings read the guidelines on small children.

    He said: “To the best of your ability, however we are aware that not all of these messages are possible.”

    “I think I behaved reasonably under the circumstances.

    “I hope my actions won't affect the public sticking to guidelines, and that people will realise why I acted.

    “Regulations state that certain circumstances – such as caring for a young child – mean people cannot always follow the rules exactly.”


    “I don't think there is one rule for me and one rule for other people. I know what the guidance was,it talks about exceptional circumstances with small children.”

    There is understandable anger, but that is based on reports in the media that has not been true. People have shouted at me in the street.

    She quizzed why he didn't check with the prime minister.

    “He himself had tested positive hours earlier, ill in bed. He had a million things on his plate, we all had a million things on our plates.”

    “What I have to think about every day is what to bother the prime minister with.

    “There are endless problems all day, I can't go to him for everything.”

    “The prime minister's time is just about the most valuable in the country, you have to be very careful with what you go to him with. I made that judgement in very extreme circumstances.

    “At the time I though it was the right thing to do, but I should have spoken to him about it.”


    Trip to hospital with son and drive to Barnard Castle were the only journeys I made.

    Had “shouted conversations at a distance” with my parents in their 70s while on their farm.

    “I don't believe I broke the rules.”

    It would have been better to make a statement earlier “for sure”.


    I don't regret it, I think it was reasonable. Dealing with small children is “exceptional circumstances”.

    I understand why people may feel angry, but it was a “tricky” situation. 

    “Arguably a mistake” not to call the PM to tell him about the trip.

    “I think I behaved reasonably”


    “It was a mistake that I didn’t call the Prime Minister.

    “I've thought a lot about what I do over this period, what things I could have done better in dealing with the whole crisis – there's definitely a lot of things I could have done better in the last few months.”


    “I believe I acted reasonably legally.

    “Some people argue that I should have stayed in my home in London throughout.

    “I respectfully agree, the legal rules do not cover all circumstances.”

    He explained that his child was vulnerable and that his London house was under attack by people who disagreed with his actions.

    The alternative was to stay in Durham and not be able to work in the government.

  • Mr Cummings is now taking questions from the media


    I think it was reasonable to make a short drive to see if I was fit to drive 5 hours to London.

    He claimed his London home has become a “target” – so I thought it was best to take family out of the capital.


    “I was back in London on 13 April, but stories I returned to Durham after that are false.

    “I never had close contact with my family while on their property, we just shouted from a distance.”


    “On April 11 I was weak and exhausted but recovering. But after medical advice I was told it was safe to return to work in London. 

    “We went for short drive to Barnard Castle to see if I could drive safely to the capital. We walked 10-15 metres to the riverbank but didn't go near anyone.”


    When Cummings and his family arrived at the cottage, he had got worse with coronavirus symptoms. As he got worse, his wife got better.

    His son was taken to hospital after being sick, but tested negative.


    “I was worried about leaving my wife and child at home all day. I thought best thing was to drive to isolated cottage at my parents' farm.”

    He explained there was no neighbours near the family home, not for half a mile. He didn't think there was any risk.

    He didn't ask the PM about his decision.

    He said that he drove to Durham at midnight and didn't stop on the way.


    He said the footage of him running out of Downing Street was him rushing to see his wife, who was ill.

    “My wife vomited, she said she felt she could pass out so I ran out of Number 10 to care for her.

    I thought I had probably caught the disease too.”

    He claimed there was “no one in London we could reasonably ask to help.”


    “I want to clear up confusion or misunderstanding that in hindsight I should have done sooner.”

    He continued talking as a loud horn noise sounded in the background.


    He apologised for being late as he shuffled some papers.

    After thanking the journalists for coming he began reading a statement.

    “I know that millions of people have been suffering, thousands have died. Many angry about what they've seen in the media about my actions.”

  • Still waiting outside Number 10, BBC's Vicki Young said:“In this occasion it's not a cabinet minster of the Prime Minister – it's the advisor coming out to answer very personal questions.

    “We presume he is going to come out and defend his actions rather than resign. We don't think you would take questions from journalists if you were going to resign.”


    The BBC news reader filling the delay said: “To be honest we are not quite sure. We are told it will be any minute now, but we were told that 20 minutes ago.”


    “Following significant public interest over the last few days, Durham Constabulary wish to add the following to our statement of Saturday, May 23rd.

    We can confirm that on April 1, an officer from Durham Constabulary spoke to the father of Dominic Cummings. 

    Mr Cummings confirmed that his son, his son’s wife and child were present at the property. He told the officer that his son and son’s wife were displaying symptoms of coronavirus and were self-isolating in part of the property.

    We can further confirm that our officer gave no specific advice on coronavirus to any members of the family and that Durham Constabulary deemed that no further action was required in that regard.

    Our officer did, however, provide the family with advice on security issues.”


    The conference is due to start in 2 minutes according to BBC News.


    Dominic Cummings is over 10 minutes late to the Downing Street press conference, which was due to start at 4pm.


    Senior adviser Dominic Cummings is publicly defended by Boris Johnson, after it emerged he made a 260-mile journey from London to his parents' home in Durham with coronavirus symptoms during lockdown.

    Dominic Cummings was behind Vote Leave's success in the EU referendum and Mr Johnson's election victory in December 2019 – but the Prime Minister is facing growing pressure to sack his aide.

    Dominic Cummings has been accused of being in breach of the coronavirus rules on three separate occasions, by making non-essential travel and leaving home.

    He and his wife, journalist Mary Wakefield, reportedly stayed at his parents' home in Durham on two separate occasions, including when he was self-isolating.

    It was revealed that he traveled to the family home 264 miles from his London residence, before being seen 30 miles from the Durham property on April 12.

    According to the Telegraph, Dominic Cummings returned to the capital on Easter Monday and was in Downing Street on April 16.

    However, witnesses say he was back in Durham on April 19, spotting the senior adviser and his wife in Houghall Woods.

    One resident, who was not named, claimed Mr Cummings said as he walked past: “Aren't the bluebells lovely?”

    But Dominic Cummings has reiterated that “he behaved reasonably and legally.”

    At the time, his wife was showing symptoms for coronavirus and the senior aide was concerned that should he contract it also, his young child could not be properly cared for by them.

    For the full article, click HERE.


    Joey Jones, former advisor to Theresa May called today's 4pm press conference 'extraordinary'.

    Speaking on BBC News, he said: “He's milking it. He's making the most of the drama. He's making a soap opera even more technicolour than we could have ever anticipated.

    “If we assume that he wants to retain his career and this is an attempt to salvage his position, I struggle to see how he will do that.

    “If he is to retain his job, he's got to do better than Boris Johnson did yesterday.”

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Jeremy Clarkson speaks out on Grand Tour colleague’s coronavirus relapse: ‘Hit him hard’

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Jeremy Clarkson has exlained how a close pal and co-star has been “hit hard” with coronavirus. The former Top Gear regular said they had “recovered” before taking another turn for the worse.

I had a Zoom call with him this week and it was like talking to a sea lion

Jeremy Clarkson

The 60-year-old opened up about The Grand Tour producer Andy Wilman, 57, in his latest column for The Sun.

He recalled how the exec was first “struck down” six weeks ago but he had spoken to him this week and he didn’t sound good after seemingly overcoming it.

Jeremy went on to question whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “fit enough to work” after battling COVID-19 himself.

The politician confirmed he had tested positive in March and was later admitted into intensive care.


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The 55-year-old was moved out of intensive care on April 9 and left hospital three days later to recuperate at Chequers.

He returned to Downing Street on the evening of April 26 to resume his duties.

Jeremy wrote of Andy: “It hit him hard and for two weeks he was in bed, unable to sleep because of the constant coughing.

“Happily, he recovered without having to go to hospital, but he was never back up to full speed before the virus came again.”

Addressing his recent video call with Andy, the presenter said it cast doubt on how Boris was feeling.

Jeremy stated: “I had a Zoom call with him this week and it was like talking to a sea lion.

“All of which makes me wonder about Boris Johnson.”

He added: “Yes, he’s up and about and yes, he says he’s fit enough to work. But is he really?”

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Jeremy and Andy both attended Repton School together, before going on to work together.

The latter is best known as the former executive producer of Top Gear, which he worked on from 2002 to 2015.

He also presented segments and was primarily responsible for the creation of The Stig.

Meanwhile, Boris previously said he “could have gone either way”.


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In a video on Twitter, the Conservative Party leader said he had witnessed the “personal courage” of hospital staff on the front line.

He said NHS workers “kept putting themselves in harm’s way, kept risking this deadly virus”.

“It is thanks to that courage, that devotion, that duty and that love that our NHS has been unbeatable,” he went on.

It comes as Jeremy revealed he was isolating with his girlfriend Lisa Hogan and her daughter at his farm.

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World News

'Independent SAGE' chief warns schools cannot reopen safely on June 1

‘Independent SAGE’ chief warns schools cannot reopen safely on June 1 and urges government to push back restart date as two thirds of councils say they won’t be ready

  • PM wants children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to go back to class on June 1
  • Sir David King, who was Tony Blair’s CMA, says date should be 2 weeks later
  • Unions have urged Government to dump the June 1 date once and for all
  • Gavin Williamson will today publish evidence in favour of school reopening
  • SAGE source says plan based on welfare not that pupils are less prone to risk

Tony Blair’s Chief Scientific Adviser when he was prime minister today claimed it is not safe to reopen schools on June 1 as scores of councils also pulled their support.

Sir David King, who chairs the ‘Independent SAGE’ committee, said it is ‘too soon’ for children to return and claims ‘new modelling’ found the risk to children would be halved if it was delayed for another fortnight.

Sir David, whose former boss Tony Blair has backed the June 1 plan, spoke out as teaching unions urged the Government to dump the date and more than 2,200 schools prepared to defy Boris Johns’s plans.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘Support for a fixed date for school return is vanishing quickly. What is needed now is local flexibility to determine when it is right for schools to open up to more pupils, informed by evidence of what is happening in their own local area’.

And a source on the Government’s SAGE committee has claimed that plans to reopen primary schools are grounded in welfare concerns rather than evidence younger pupils are less vulnerable to coronavirus. 

Today it was revealed that two thirds of councils have now told parents they cannot guarantee that primary schools will open on time – while the Times Education Supplement reported that some academies who previously backed the June 1 time have performed a U-turn.

Sir David King, who chairs the ‘Independent Sage’ committee, said it is ‘too soon’ for children to return and claims ‘new modelling’ found the risk to children would be halved if it was delayed for another fortnight.

This is how social distanced desks will look at Holywell Village First School in Northumberland  

Schools will return next month with a series of government rules in place to keep staff and pupils as healthy as possible

Only around 20 of England’s 150 local authorities have said they are advising headteachers to open again in ten days’ time, it was revealed today.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has promised that scientific evidence in favour of school reopening will be published today – but it appears he is fighting a losing battle. 

A BBC survey of councils found that of the 99 that responded, 68 ‘cannot guarantee’ parents their children will be back in school at the start of June.

15 of those local authorities, mainly Labour councils in the north-west of England, said they had advised to opposed Boris Johnson’s plans. 11 said they were still considering their response with just over a week to go and 53 said headteachers could decide.   

In the first phase of his back-to-school blueprint, Boris Johnson wants children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to go back to class on June 1.

An expert on Downing Street’s scientific advisory subcommittee on schools claimed that these specific year groups were selected based on worries for their education and wellbeing – not that they are more shielded to the disease. 

Although age is a factor in how at-risk an infected person is to Covid-19 symptoms, modelling found there was ‘no increased risk to one year group over another’.

Government plans to reopen primary schools are driven by welfare concerns rather than evidence younger pupils are less vulnerable to coronavirus (Education Secretary Gavin Williamson pictured)

The Sage source told the Telegraph that ‘welfare reasons and educational reasons’ informed the decision to pick these three year groups as the first to go back.

Sage, the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, chaired by Sir Patrick Vallance, will today publish its advice on the safety of reopening primary schools next month.  

Sage, the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, chaired by Sir Patrick Vallance, will today publish its advice on the safety of reopening primary schools next month

The revelations that there is no difference in the vulnerability of certain year groups will likely whip up anger from teachers’ unions, who claim social distancing is much harder to enforce in primary schools.

Ministers have also come under growing pressure from councils, predominantly by Labour-run local authorities in the north of England, who have ruled out a wider reopening from June 1.  

A final decision on whether to go ahead with reopening schools is expected to be taken by the government on or before May 28 after the most up-to-date scientific evidence has been reviewed. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We are continuing to hold discussions with them and to listen to their concerns.’ 

He added: ‘It remains our intention to get as many children as possible back into school as soon as we are able, in a way that’s safe.’ 

Asked when a decision would be made on the date, the spokesman told reporters: ‘I’m not in a position to say to you, definitively, when we will be able to say that.’

But ‘our intention remains to get as many children into school as soon as possible but in a safe way’.

Social workers deployed in schools

Social workers will be placed in schools across the country to help identify children at risk of abuse and neglect, the Government has announced.

Nearly £10million of funding from the Department for Education (DfE) has been announced for projects aimed at boosting the educational outcomes of vulnerable children and keeping them safe from harm.

Of this package, £6.5million will be allocated to What Works for Children’s Social Care who will deploy social workers in more than 150 schools to help staff spot the signs of children at risk more quickly.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘The stark reality is that too many children are growing up at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation. 

‘These are the most vulnerable in society, and the ones that most need our help. ‘

It is likely that local authority-run primary schools in England will look closely at what their council has to say before deciding whether to reopen on the first week of June. 

The government has also said secondary schools and colleges should aim to offer some ‘face-to-face contact’ with Year 10 and 12 students who have key exams next year during the summer term.

Teachers say they are trying to create a virus-free environment ahead of their schools’ partial reopening next month.

Charlotte Bayazian, head teacher at La Petite Ecole Bilingue in North London, can be seen rearranging tables to ensure her young pupils can socially distance while learning.

Fully masked up, she was also seen (in other photos) covering displays in plastic and marking specific seating plans to prepare for the return of the bilingual school.

The government’s proposed recommencing of teaching for all Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 classes in England has met resistance from unions and councils, who claim it is still unsafe to return. 

The union opposing the reopening of schools has written to every head in England warning they face legal action if teachers catch coronavirus.

The National Education Union (NEU) said schools could be pursued through the courts as its ups its campaign against the Government’s plan to get children back in classrooms from June 1.

It comes as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies releases its safety advice today on reopening schools, which informed the Government’s decision. Union critics said the report would ‘remove all their excuses’ for blocking reopening.

Glebe School in West Wickham remains closed because of the coronavirus outbreak

NEU boss Kevin Courtney has instructed members to obstruct heads by accusing them of violating the law and ‘threatening’ to denounce them on social media.

Letters have been sent to every school in England claiming the decision to reopen is on their ‘shoulders’, claiming they could be liable if teachers catch Covid-19 in their schools. ‘We will be advising members of their legal rights should any member contract Covid-19 upon returning to school,’ the letter warns heads and college leaders.

But it was denounced by school leaders, who said it was ‘not helpful’. Signed off by the NEU, GMB, Unison, and Unite, it claimed schools that follow Government guidance could be pursued in the courts.

Schools Week reported that the letter said: ‘We believe it is important you fully understand the potential liability you are exposing yourself to by following the current deeply flawed guidance.’ It also claimed the Department for Education (DfE) ‘failed to provide clear and robust guidance that will ensure the health and safety of pupils, staff and the wider community’.

Government sources expressed outrage at the missive, saying guidance was informed by Public Health England. A DfE spokesman said: ‘The welfare of children and staff has been at the heart of all decision making.’

A NEU spokesman said: ‘We will advise our members of their legal rights not to work if exposed to serious and imminent danger.’  

Prince William has warned of the impact that lockdown and being kept away from school could be having on children’s mental health.

In a video call to care providers, he said he was particularly concerned about the issue, despite families attempting to ‘muddle’ their way through.

He also expressed fears about their anxiety levels as a result of the pandemic generally, as well as the loss of family members to the virus, and highlighted the long-term implications of the economic outlook for school leavers.

The prince was talking to five professionals from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in a Zoom video call.

William said: ‘I’m particularly worried as to how the young people are going to cope long term because we’re all muddling through this period.

‘But the long-term implications – of school being missed, anxiety levels, family members sadly dying and the sort of general economic outlook – do you think that will play heavily on your services and what they’ll need?’

How do plans to re-open state, academy and private schools differ across the UK? 

Schools, colleges and nurseries across the UK closed more than eight weeks ago due to the coronavirus outbreak, remaining open only for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.

Boris Johnson unveiled proposals to allow more children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to school in England from as early as June 1 as part of his strategy for easing lockdown restrictions.

But the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have adopted different approaches to sending children back to the classroom.

So what are the plans for the different nations?

– Scotland

The Scottish Government aims to have all children back in schools on a part-time basis on August 11.

Teachers will return to school during June to prepare for the attendance of pupils, while there will be support where available for pupils moving into primary 1 or moving from primary to secondary school.

Education Secretary John Swinney said parts of the school estate could be expanded to allow social distancing to be observed, and community and leisure centres, conference halls and libraries could be used to allow pupils to spend more time with teachers.

Schools will reopen towards the end of the summer holidays in Scotland, but children will return to a “blended model of part-time in-school and part-time at-home learning” to allow for social distancing.

– Northern Ireland

All children are intended to restart classes on a phased basis, involving a mixture of physical attendance and remote learning, in September if enough progress is made in curbing coronavirus.

But the education minister has said schools in Northern Ireland could reopen to pupils preparing for exams in the third week of August.

Those studying for major public tests and transfer from primary to post-primary schools would be among the first to return to classes under an envisaged phased reopening, Peter Weir said.

Exams for entrance to post-primary schools are due to be held two weeks later this autumn to allow more time for primary teachers to catch up on lost lesson time since the school closures.

– Wales

The Welsh Government has not given any dates for when the country can expect schools to reopen.

Wales’ plan to exit the lockdown sets out that restrictions will be eased through three stages – red, amber and green – and each of the stages will see a “cautious” lifting of measures.

If the virus remains under control, the amber zone would follow and include allowing priority groups of pupils to return to school. Further control of the virus would move the country into the green zone, allowing all education to resume.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said she would refuse to set an “arbitrary date” for a return to schools, saying the Government first needed to see more evidence about the disease.

– England

The Government expects pre-school children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils to be back in school, from the start of next month.

Young children could start returning to nurseries and primary schools in England from June 1, with the Government aiming for all primary school pupils to go back for a month before the summer holidays.

The Government has also said secondary schools and colleges should aim to offer some “face-to-face contact” with Year 10 and 12 students who have key exams next year during the summer term.

A final decision on whether to go ahead with reopening schools is expected to be taken by the Government on or before May 28 after the most up-to-date scientific evidence has been reviewed.

Are there different approaches to reopening among schools in England?

– Council-run schools

Ministers have came under growing pressure from councils, predominantly by Labour-run local authorities in the north of England, who have ruled out a wider reopening from June 1.

It is likely that local authority-run primary schools in England will look closely at what their council has to say before deciding whether to reopen on the first week of June.

A number of councils, alongside teaching unions, have been calling for the scientific evidence underpinning the decision to reopen schools in England to be published. This is expected on Friday.

– Academies

Academies, which are state schools that are not run by councils, could follow the advice of their local authority, or they may make their own decisions on whether to stick to the Government’s time scale.

But already a number of chief executives of academy chains have said schools must reopen soon to avoid “irreparable” damage to vulnerable children.

Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Trust, which has 35 primary schools, said the trust plans to admit more pupils to its schools from June 1 as he said it is “common sense” to create an opportunity for pupils to return to school.

Sir Steve Lancashire, chief executive of REAch2, the largest primary academy chain in England, also plans to open all their schools for the priority year groups.

– Private schools

Some private schools may consider keeping children in Year 6 at home when schools reopen more widely, an independent school chief has suggested.

Christopher King, chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (Iaps), which has more than 600 members, said he expects the vast majority of members in England to reopen to more pupils from June 1.

But he told the PA news agency that some private schools may decide to remain closed to Year 6 pupils who can continue their virtual learning at home.

Mr King also warned that it may be difficult for some independent schools to open if they are located in local authorities advising against a June 1 reopening.

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Wembley groundsman admits he can’t wait to have people tearing up his pristine pitch once again – The Sun

KARL STANDLEY says he cannot wait for players to be back out on his precious pitch, messing it up.

But for Wembley’s grounds manager, life will be back to normal only when the national stadium is packed to the rafters with fans making memories to last a lifetime.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus in sport live blog for the latest news & updates

Standley said: “We are excited that one day, whenever it may be, we will have the football back and have people using the pitch.

“There will be incredible goals scored on that pitch. The net will be bulging, whether it’s rain or shine.
“One day we can hopefully have people in the stadium again. There’s no better feeling than when youngsters come with their dad.

“I go back to me and the first time I went to Southampton. I walked out on to this wooden terrace and my dad said, ‘This is The Dell, this is where your dad comes to and where you are going to come with me now with your season ticket’. Wow.

“We will always give the players a good surface to play on. But the biggest thing for me is the fans and those smiles you see and the stories those youngsters will one day tell their kids.”

This week, Standley and his team should have been preparing for the biggest day in Wembley’s calendar — the FA Cup final, originally scheduled for next Saturday.

Instead they will continue working under new conditions imposed by the Covid-19 crisis.

How Standley does his job has not actually changed a huge amount. Sensors under and around the pitch measuring things like soil moisture and humidity allowed him to work from home some days even before the pandemic began.

He said: “I can dial into the pitch, see what it’s doing.

“It’s a bit like running a diagnostic programme on a car, as F1 teams do.”

The main change to the routine is that Standley and his three assistants now work in pairs rather than all together.

And their most important task right now is to replicate the punishment the pitch — which was completely replaced over winter — would usually have been taking in the busy period from May to August.

Standley explained: “There are 980million blades of grass out there.

“On each piece of grass there are five leaves. One of them is always deteriorating and we have to remove this damage.

“We almost have to put our own wear and tear on to the pitches just to ensure they keep ticking along.

“We would normally clear it out every month in a playing season, now we are doing it every week to ten days.”

But if you ever forget about the magic of football, just ask Standley to talk you through his build-up to the moment the referee blows the first whistle on FA Cup final day.

After six minutes of fascinating technical and personal detail, he said: “It’s spine- tingling to be on the pitch for those critical couple of minutes when the players go off down the tunnel and you hear the fans chanting from each side. It’s very emotional.”

That passion has driven Standley’s career.

The young football fan who grew vegetables in his parents’ garden combined the two loves of his life by taking a two-year course at Sparsholt College, near Winchester.

Standley, then just 18, thought all his dreams had come true when a work placement at his beloved Southampton turned into a permanent job.

But with the Saints’ backing, in 2006 he joined the team preparing for the grand reopening of Wembley.

Standley’s rise through the ranks was complete in 2017 when he became head groundsman, a title that changed to grounds manager earlier this year as his role evolved.

After growing up with the stadium, he has a good sense of perspective as he and his team cope with the lack of action on their pitch — do not forget Wembley was supposed to stage seven Euro 2020 games, including the semi- finals and final, this summer.

Standley said: “We have a little saying which is on one of the walls of the machine store, ‘Being challenged is inevitable — being defeated is optional’.

“We’re just making sure, No 1, that the team is healthy and happy. And this is a challenge that we will have to overcome.”

At the age of 35, Standley is young to be in arguably the most illustrious job in his profession.

And the child-like wonder he still feels when he is at work is infectious, bringing hope of better days to come.

Standley said: “This stadium is built out of concrete and steel, but even when it’s empty there’s history in every seat and every beam.

“Everything could tell a story.

“It’s a piece of grass that we are really proud and passionate about, that we want to be the best.

“I just want people to be using the pitch and enjoying themselves, to have people happy with smiles on their faces again.”

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TV and Movies

Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler ‘reunited’ in new TV project

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The Big Bang Theory fans were extremely sad to see the CBS comedy come to an end last year. After 12 incredible seasons full of entertainment, viewers saw each of the characters come to the natural conclusion of their stories. However it looks like two of the huge stars will be arriving on TV once again.

Sheldon Cooper (played by Jim Parsons) finished the show with his best scenario available – a Nobel Prize.

Similarly, his wife, Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) found herself at the top of her game in the scientific world.

Now, the next arrival of Amy star Mayim on screen is in the upcoming TV show titled Call Me Kat.

Call Me Kat is to be based on the UK show Miranda – which was created by Miranda Hart.


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The upcoming FOX show is going to follow a 39-year-old woman – Kat, played by Mayim – who will be battling to prove to her mother that she cannot have everything she wants, but will still be happy.

Filming for Call Me Kat started earlier this year, according to The Sun, but has since been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Sheldon star Jim comes onto the scene as an executive producer on the show, bringing the actors together off-screen.

However, as Jim is such a renowned actor, he may find himself feeling the urge to join his former-on-screen-wife on set once again in show as things progress.

Meanwhile, fans have been looking into some plot holes over the course of the series, and pointed out one involving Sheldon and Amy.

Speaking out about an issue involving Sheldon and a scarf, a fan wrote: “Sheldon is returning Amy’s scarf and says, ‘You wore it the night we went ice skating, remember?’

“To which Amy replies, ‘You mean the night that I went ice skating and you stood at the rail Googling the symptoms of hypothermia?’”

However they went on to point out Amy later explained she would never go ice skating.

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They continued: “But in episode 8-12: The Space Probe Disintegration, Amy states that she cannot go ice skating because she has ‘unnaturally brittle ankles.’”

Of course this is a huge error, and could be a result of a couple of things.

Either this is a massive misstep for the writers, and Amy’s character simply forgot about ice skating.

Or, alternatively, could Amy have developed this condition between the two episodes in question?


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This could quite easily be the case for Amy, as she has found a number of new ailments over her course on the show.

Despite this, could her illness have simply deteriorated over time, or should she have not gone on the ice skating date to begin with?

Fans also went on to spot a number of errors in the show concerning the rest of the cast as well.

The Big Bang Theory is available to stream on Netflix.

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Carol Vorderman: Countdown star’s curves on full display in clingy dress for new BBC show

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Carol Vorderman was on the set of her new BBC show The Great Indoors yesterday. The Countdown legend pulled out all the stops for the second instalment, after it launched on BBC Wales last week.

Think it was so bright it blinded a cameraman

Carol Vorderman

The 59-year-old shared a nummber of snaps and videos from the behind-the-scenes with her 440,000 Twitter followers.

The small screen regular gave fans a glimpse of what was going on in the broadcast tonight, where she will once again co-host with Scott Quinnell.

Carol initially uploaded a sultry selfie to the micro-blogging site, showing off her incredible figure.

The close-up offering saw her beam at the camera, while her bright ensemble was impossible to miss.


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Wearing her brunette tresses down in a soft wave, Carol opted for lashings of smokey eye make-up and pink glossy lips.

Her yellow dress clung to her curves and featured a V-neckline and three quarter-length sleeves.

The mother-of-two polished off her outfit with matching, peep-toe heels with cut-out detailing.

She wrote: “Thought I’d wear something… er… buttercuppy for the show… think it was so bright it blinded a cameraman. Watch tomorrow night #TheGreatIndoors @BBCOne Wales.”

The star was left amused when one fan told her: “My Glasses go dark, Carol with bright light, and colour.”

She went on to reveal a second glimpse of her attire, this time with Scott on set.

The duo were seen laying down on invidivual red sofas, while the title of their show could be seen on a screen between them.

Carol risked revealing a little too much as she relaxed casually, while laughing away at her companion.

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She added: “Scotty Bach @ScottQuinnell has been given a sofa to himself this week on #TheGreatIndoors… He fills the whole thing cos he’s still huge.

“Join us Thursday night 7.30pm @BBCOne Wales, including the great @maxboyceMBE.”

One viewer told her: “I love the banter between you & @ScottQuinnell, I can’t help but smile & laugh whenever you are together. It could only get bettered if you added @OwainWynEvans.

“That @carolvorders would be a TV match made (dress colour pun intended) in gold! It needs to happen, make Wales smile!”


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They were referencing her BBC Radio Wales co-host, who she does a Saturday show with each week.

She replied: “Let’s make it happen… only thing is we’d just laugh for half an hour… and I mean LAUGH.”

Another of her fellow presenters, Huw Evans, also tweeted: “Tonight on @BBCWales 7.30pm @TrePhoenixSnrs @trephoenixdev showing how Pip, Stacey and our brilliant volunteers are helping out @ScottQuinnell @carolvorders we can’t wait to watch it #thegreatindoors.”

Carol then said: “This story tonight makes you cry and then laugh out loud… some behind the scenes photos of Elvis preparing for the big moment #TheGreatIndoors @BBCOne Wales.”

The Great Indoors airs on BBC One Wales tonight at 7.30pm.

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People are buying their pets cosy cup noodle beds to snooze in and it's the best

Every pet deserves a cosy bed of the highest standards to snooze in – even if they then ignore your design efforts and just sleep in the box it came in.

And what could be cosier than slipping into a giant pot noodle?

We’re not actually advocating sleeping in a bowl of soup, to be clear. That wouldn’t be particularly comfortable.

Instead we’re fans of these pet beds designed to look like big Japanese cup noodles, complete with lids as blankets.

The cup noodle beds have come to our attention thanks to a video of a Shiba Inu called Yuki having a rest in a nice faux-ramen cup.

But the beds actually come in a range of different pot noodle designs – or flavours.

You can choose your favourite colour or your favourite noodle dish, whether that’s a veggie treat with an egg or a tonkatsu ramen.

Each bed costs 4,700 yen – around £35 – and includes the bed, a ramen-design pillow, and a lid.

They’re pretty much made for Instagram – and let’s face it, you could do with an excuse to do another full-scale photoshoot of your pet – but also look mighty comfy for cats and small dogs.

Now all we need is for someone to make a bigger version so we can snooze in our own noodle pots and match with our furry friends. The dream.

If cup noodles aren’t your speed, we’d recommend having a gander at the related items on this bed’s Amazon page.

Over in Japan brands are nailing the pet furniture game – we’ve already become obsessed with hot dog beds, a cat cushion made to look like a fluffy pancake, and luxury hammocks just for pets.

If you’ve found a bit of furniture that tops this marvel, please do let us know in the comments section.

And, as always, share pics of your pets too. We’d love to see ’em.

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World News

Cat and owner both die after catching coronavirus in Spain

Cat dies after catching coronavirus from its Spanish owner – who also succumbed to the disease

  • The four-year-old feline was taken to the vet with breathing difficulties
  • He was suffering with heart disease so staff decided to put him to sleep
  • His body was sent to researchers who discovered traces of coronavirus
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A cat in Spain has died after catching coronavirus from its owner who also died from the disease.

The four-year-old feline contracted the killer bug in Catalunya and was taken to a veterinary hospital with breathing difficulties. 

Staff discovered he had heart failure as well as a temperature of 38.2°C and low platelet levels, which meant his blood was not able to clot properly.

The cat, who already suffered from a genetic heart condition, was put to sleep after it was decided he was unlikely to recover.

His body was then sent to a research centre for analysis, where experts discovered traces of coronavirus in samples taken from his nose and digestive tract (file photo)

His body was then sent to a research centre for analysis, where experts discovered traces of coronavirus in samples taken from his nose and digestive tract. 

It is believed the cat contracted the disease from his owner, who was also killed by the bug, according to local media LavanGuardia.

Joaquim Segales, a researcher at the Centre for Research in Animal Health (CReSA), said: ‘He is a collateral victim of the disease in human’. 

He is one of six cats to have become infected with the disease, Spanish news site Olive Press reported. 

Although CReSa director Natàlia Majó said the chances of cat-to-cat transmission are ‘currently unknown’, a China study earlier this year ran blood tests on 102 cats in Wuhan. 

The scientists found that cats and ferrets were susceptible to catching the virus but that it was rarer in dogs. They said pigs, chickens and ducks were not susceptible at all. 

The study concluded that ‘the virus transmits in cats via respiratory droplets’. 

Majó said the most reasonable hypothesis for cats being able to catch coroanvirus is because ‘the present receptors in cells for viruses’ in the same way as humans. 

Neither the World Health Organisation nor the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has said pets can catch or transmit the disease from or to humans. 

Last month it was revealed eight big cats at the Bronx Zoo in New York City had  tested positive for coronavirus after experiencing breathing difficulties. 

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Gemma Atkinson receives warning from stranger after walk with baby Mia: ‘Be careful’

Hits Radio star Gemma Atkinson 35, was told to “be careful” by a stranger after taking her baby daughter Mia – who she shares with boyfriend Gorka Marquez – out for a walk. The actress was advised during her daily stroll with her baby daughter amid the coronavirus lockdown. 

Today I saw this!!

Gemma Atkinson

Gemma recalled: “Walking the dogs with Mia in the papoose last week & a man came to inform me to be careful as there was a lad on a red scooter on my route threatening people. Today I saw this!!”

The actress shared a photo of a man who has allegedly “attacked women on their own” around Bury in Lincolnshire on social media. 

Alongside a photo of a man sitting on a red moped, someone had written: “This happened in Bury, Lancs yesterday – let’s find him and stop him from being aggressive towards other women!!”

They continued to write: “This hero attacks lone women on footpaths around Bury on his moped.”


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Once Gemma had shared the post online, people went on to say how “scary” it was.

One told the Emmerdale star: “That’s scary! Hope they get him soon,” while another from a similar area as her said: “Yeah I saw that on fb, I’m from Middleton.

“Take care when you’re out on your own Gemma. What a horrible human.”

A third said: “Hope he gets caught Gemma & hope you and Mia are ok.”

Meanwhile, Gemma, who is currently housebound with Gorka and Mia, recently spoke out about her decision to become vegetarian.

While sharing a photo of herself on her exercise bike, the host explained: “I’m not going to tell anyone what to eat, but I will tell all the people who said that my training & health would suffer by being vegetarian, that they were wrong.

“I gave up all red meat in my 20s. I still had fish and chicken but it never sat well with me mentally.”

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The former Hollyoaks actress went on to say: “I was constantly going between ‘all animals deserve to live’ to, ‘but I need to eat protein to be healthy’.

“It dawned on me that meat is just a source of protein, along with many other sources of protein.”

The mother-of-one also revealed how she became vegetarian last November and how it was the “best decision” she has ever made.

Gemma added: “I became vegetarian last November and for me personally, it was the best decision I’ve made.


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“My training has improved if anything and so has my energy levels. And mentally I feel good knowing an animal hasn’t been slaughtered in order for me to eat.”

Towards the end of her lengthy post, Gemma stated: “If you eat meat that’s your choice, if you’re vegan it’s your choice. Vegetarian is my choice and if anything I wish I’d made it sooner.”

Soon after the Strictly Come Dancing star shared her thinking behind her decision, fans went on to share their thoughts.

One follower asked Gemma if she drinks alcohol, to which the actress responded with: “Yeh, occasionally. Always on my birthday, that’s for sure but apart from that maybe once every three months.”

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