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Sir Ian McKellen pulls out of Player Kings tour after fall from West End stage | Ents & Arts News

Sir Ian McKellen has pulled out of a national tour after falling from a stage in the West End while performing in a play.

The 85-year-old actor was performing in Player Kings earlier this month at the Noel Coward theatre when he fell into the audience.

A general view of the Noel Coward theatre in London. Sir Ian McKellen fell from the stage during a performance of Player Kings at the theatre on Monday night. Picture date: Tuesday June 18, 2024. Pic: PA
Pic: PA

The production had been due to go on tour until 27 July but Sir Ian has announced his withdrawal with the “greatest reluctance” to “protect my recovery”.

Shortly after the fall, Sir Ian had confirmed that he would not be returning for the remaining London dates of the show, to give him time to rest.

A statement from the production said: “Following Ian McKellen’s injury during the West End run of Player Kings, his doctors’ advice is to take time off from work in order to fully recover.

“As such, he will not be returning to play Sir John Falstaff in the national tour of Players Kings (3-27 July 2024).

“Ian continues to recuperate very well, but he needs the time to rest and ensure a complete recovery. We continue to send him our best wishes.

“As it was for the final West End performances, the role of Falstaff will now be performed by David Semark, Ian’s brilliant understudy, for all tour dates of Player Kings.”

Sir Ian had been playing Sir John Falstaff – one of Shakespeare’s most famous creations – in the modern reworking of Henry IV, parts one and two.

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The Olivier Award-winning star said in a statement: “Two weeks after my accident onstage, my injuries improve day by day.

“It’s with the greatest reluctance that I have accepted the medical advice to protect my full recovery by not working in the meantime.

“I had been so looking forward to bringing Player Kings to theatre-goers in Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle.

“But I can assure them that, with David Semark now playing Falstaff, Robert Icke’s production and his acting company remain as dazzling as ever. Go see for yourself!”

An NHS response unit outside the theatre. Pic: Sky News
An NHS response unit outside the theatre on the day of the fall. Pic: Sky News

Sir Ian lost his footing during a fight scene in the play involving the Prince of Wales and Henry Percy.

The Lord Of The Rings star was heard crying out in pain as staff rushed to help, and the theatre was quickly evacuated.

Sir Ian said he spent three days in hospital following the fall before undergoing “physiotherapy, light exercise and a lot of essential rest at home”.

He also thanked well-wishers for their messages of support, as well as the NHS experts who had diagnosed and treated him.

Following its West End run, Player Kings begins a national tour, starting at the Bristol Hippodrome on Wednesday 3 July, before stops in Birmingham, Norwich, and Newcastle.

South West Water: Parent company of utility responsible for fixing contaminated supply in Devon announces surge in profits | Business News

The parent company of South West Water has insisted it is focused on returning safe water supply to Brixham in Devon as it announced an 8.6% increase in underlying operating profits to £166.3m.

Around 17,000 households in the Brixham area have been told to boil their drinking water since last week following an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis which left hundreds of people ill.

The condition, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, is caused by a water-born parasite, and South West Water has said it was most likely triggered by animal faeces entering a damaged pipe.

Pennon Group, the listed company which owns South West Water, Bournemouth Water and Bristol Water, said normal service had been returned to 85% of customers as it announced its annual financial results.

“Whilst the results we are announcing today are based on our performance for the last financial year, we are 100% focused on returning a safe water supply to the people and businesses in and around Brixham,” said Susan Davy, the group chief executive.

“Normal service has returned for 85% of customers, but we won’t stop until the local drinking water is returned to the quality all our customers expect and deserve. Our absolute priority continues to be the health and safety of our customers and our operational teams are working tirelessly around the clock to deliver this.”

The company also revealed it is paying out about £3.5m in compensation to customers affected by the parasite outbreak in Devon.

Read more:
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‘Robust’ results – but firm defends money for shareholders

Describing financial results which include a 10% increase in revenues to more than £907m as “robust”, Ms Davy said dividend payments to shareholders, increasing by 3.8% to 44.37 pence per share, had been reduced to cover the cost of a £2.4m fine for multiple pollution incidents.

“At a time when media, public and regulatory scrutiny is high, it is important we do what is right for all. In the context of the wider group performance, we have carefully considered Ofwat’s new dividend guidance for water businesses. We have… adjusted the final dividend quantum by £2.4m, equivalent to the South West Water Court fine in 2023/24, signalling we are listening, clearing the way for long-term shareholder value.”

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Pennon Group’s net debt rose by 10% to £5.18bn, a debt ratio of more than 63%, and capital expenditure rose by almost 80% to £642.4m.

Water companies are currently negotiating with regulator Ofwat over their spending and revenue plans for the next five years, and South West Water has proposed a 20% increase in customer bills.

Who is the new West Midlands Mayor Richard Parker? | UK News

Richard Parker has pulled off a surprise victory in the West Midlands mayoral election.

The Labour candidate unseated Andy Street, winning by just 1,508 votes, to end the Tory’s seven-year term.

Here’s what you need to know about the relatively unknown politician.

Originally from Bristol, Mr Parker’s father was a dock worker and his mother a school secretary.

He left school aged 16 and went straight to work at a local port authority before getting an economics degree.

Mr Parker went to work for PwC in 1989, where he gained his accountancy qualifications and went on to become a partner, managing the accountancy firm’s relationship with the Labour Party.

Mr Parker also worked with council leaders to set up the West Midlands Combined Authority in 2016 before leaving to set up his own company RP Strategy.

The firm works with small and medium-sized companies and social enterprises on initiatives such as green investment, housing and the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Liam Bryne with Labour's West Midlands candidate Richard Parker. Pic: Liam Byrne/X
Liam Bryne with Richard Parker. Pic: Liam Byrne/X

Read more:
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He has been a Labour Party member for 35 years and was selected as the candidate for West Midlands mayor over Birmingham City councillor Nicky Brennan In April 2023.

In his manifesto, Mr Parker, 60, tells of his “ordinary working-class background” and writes: “I’ve never been a politician before, but I’m not prepared to sit on the sidelines any more. I’ll do politics differently. Things must change.”

His election promises include a plan to create 150,000 jobs and training opportunities across the West Midlands, revitalise high streets and tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

He has lived in the West Midlands since 1985 and spent his working life there. His wife works as a lawyer and his son works in manufacturing in the Black Country.

A Birmingham Mail profile of the new mayor says Mr Parker is a Bristol City fan who calls trip-hop band Massive Attack “friends”.

He also told the paper he likes cooking, watching live bands, going to the theatre and meeting friends for a pint or a coffee.

ESL One Birmingham: Thousands of fans head to West Midlands to watch professional video gamers | Science & Tech News

The production is slick, the pundits are sharp and the players are gods.

This is no traditional tournament though. This is professional gaming. Fans are watching the best players in the world playing their favourite game, in an arena, for a cash prize.

Around 15,000 fans from across the world are in Birmingham watching pros go head-to-head (virtually) throughout the week, with many thousands more watching the competition online.

The tournament, ESL One Birmingham, is being held at the Resorts World Arena near the city’s airport.

While many people will have heard of some of the games that are played at big esports events like this, such as Fifa, the game being played this week in Birmingham will be less widely known.

Dota 2 is described to me by one gaming analyst as being ‘kind of like chess’ but with flashing lights and novelty characters.

There are two teams of five players and, before play can begin, a considerable amount of time is spent by the professionals choosing their own characters and trying to stop the other team from choosing characters which might be overly advantageous during the game.

Then, frankly, the rules of the game are lost on me but I’m told it involves a king, queens and trying to destroy the enemy’s (the other team’s) base.

The fans tell me part of the appeal of Dota is how difficult the game is, but ultimately the enjoyment of being a spectator is the same as for sports enthusiasts.

“It’s about the professional aspect of it, similar with football. You can go and play football but it’s nice to see people playing it at a level you could never play at,” says fan Ryan Freeman.

Pic: ESL One Birmingham
Pic: ESL One Birmingham

I’m here to watch the competition’s semi-final between the UK team, Tundra, and a Saudi Arabian team, Falcons. There aren’t actually any UK players in Tundra and Falcons are an equally international bunch.

Much like in professional athletic sports, esports teams are buying and selling the best players in the world. The pros in Tundra and Falcons are some of the best paid in the industry.

One expert tells me at this level, players can make $10,000 (£8,000) a month, plus tournament winnings and sponsorship deals. The prize pot at this competition is $1m (£800,000) although that is shared between the teams, with the winning team taking $300,000 (£240,000).

Pic: ESL One Birmingham
Pic: ESL One Birmingham

“I think many people think of the esports team as just five guys who like playing the game at home,” says Alvaro Sanchez Velasco, Product Manager at ESL One Birmingham.

“But the [team] organisations have boot camps, they have schedules that include training regimens, psychological visits. They usually have a team manager and team psychologist, that’s very common these days, as well as a coach and assistant coach.”

Jonas Volek is a Czech professional gamer and although he’s not taking part in this tournament in Birmingham, he’s here to commentate and analyse the games. While I’m interviewing him I see a line of fans developing, they’re clearly waiting for him to finish speaking.

Pic: ESL One Birmingham
Pic: ESL One Birmingham

When he does, they all ask for selfies.

Mr Volek, 23, played chess as a child, then switched to video games and by 12 years old he was hooked on Dota 2, becoming a professional player by his late teens. Now he competes in tournaments across the world.

“It’s not really a job, it’s more of a lifestyle because it takes so much of my time,” says Mr Volek.

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“When I’m really training, it takes 12 hours a day, and I’m always travelling. There’s no time for anything else.”

I didn’t see any female players on stage in Birmingham, and the audience is dominated by men.

“I do hope one day I’ll see more women up there playing the game in the best teams,” says fan Charlotte Keane.

But there isn’t the charged, often volatile atmosphere that you might find at many sporting events, particularly men’s football.

There is some comic ‘smack talk’ between players from opposing teams, egged on by the hosts for the audience’s enjoyment. But after one player criticises the other player’s hair in mock-serious fashion, one of the hosts decides that’s enough play fighting.

Of course, for the fans, there isn’t the same territorial spirit that comes with supporting a particular football team for instance. Mostly this is about respect for the individual players, who can’t hear any of the cheers or chants from the crowd during the game as they wear noise cancelling headphones so they can focus on winning.

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After about an hour of play, Falcons are victorious, and the fans make their way out of the auditorium to buy hot dogs and fish and chips.

This event feels distinctly less boozy than any sporting competition I’ve ever been to. But, even for an enthusiast, Dota 2 does not seem like the kind of game it would be easy to follow after a few pints.

Minibus carrying football fans overturns in West Yorkshire crash with 17 people injured | UK News

Seventeen people were taken to hospital, including seven with serious injuries, after a minibus carrying football fans overturned in West Yorkshire.

Police were called after a collision involving the Iris single decker minibus and a black Skoda Fabia on the A1 near Pontefract on Saturday evening.

A third vehicle, a white car, which has not yet been identified, is also thought to have been involved.

The minibus was carrying South Shields FC fans returning from a match with Tamworth.

The club posted on X: “Our thoughts go out to the supporters involved in a crash on the way home from today’s game.

“At this moment of time we have no further details, however we hope everyone is safe and recovering.”

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South Shields lost 3-2 to Tamworth in the penultimate match of the Vanarama National League North season on Saturday at the Staffordshire club’s Lamb Ground.

Parts of the motorway were closed until Sunday morning as emergency services, including Yorkshire Air Ambulance, attended the scene.

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West Yorkshire Police are appealing for information including dash cam footage relating to the crash or the unidentified white car.

“There were 17 people injured and taken to hospital for treatment, with seven of those thought to have suffered serious injuries,” the force said in a statement.

“Enquiries into the circumstances regarding the collision remain ongoing with officers from the Roads Policing Unit.”

Dozens of firefighters attend west London blaze | UK News

Around 100 firefighters and 15 fire engines were called to a blaze at a terraced house in Kensington, west London on Friday morning.

Five people were rescued from flats on the first, second and fourth floors of the building, with 11 people treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to London hospitals and trauma centres.

Half of the ground floor of the five-storey building, which has been converted into flats, was alight at around 2.20am on Friday morning – almost two hours after fire brigades were called.

The scene of the fire in south Kensington overnight Pic: Susi Petherick
Pic: Susi Petherick

Around 15 people escaped from the house on Emperor’s Gate in south Kensington before fire brigades arrived.

Fire crews from Kensington, Fulham, Battersea, Hammersmith and Chelsea also fought the blaze.

The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.

London Fire Brigade’s Steve Collins said at the scene: “The fire has spread from the ground floor to the top floor and roof of the property. Crews are working extremely hard to contain [it] further to stop it spreading to adjacent building.”

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We sent a number of resources to the scene including ambulance crews, paramedics in response cars, advanced paramedics, operational managers and members of our Hazardous Area Response Team (HART). We also dispatched London’s air ambulance.

“We have treated eight patients and taken them to London hospitals and major trauma centres. We remain on scene with emergency services colleagues.”

Feltham stabbing: Murder investigation launched after man, 19, found dead in west London park | UK News

A man has been found stabbed to death in a west London park as police launch a murder investigation.

The body of Tyler Donnelly, 19, was discovered by joggers in Hanworth Park in Feltham at around 7.40am this morning.

Detective Chief Inspector Brian Howie, who is leading the investigation from the Met‘s Homicide Command, has appealed to the public to come forward if they have any information.

The entrance to Hanworth Park on Elmwood Avenue Pic: Google Street View
The entrance to Hanworth Park on Elmwood Avenue Pic: Google Street View

He said: “Tyler left his home around 9.10pm on Wednesday evening and rode his bike along Elmwood Avenue and at some stage entered the park. He never returned home.

“If you were in the park and saw something, regardless of the reason you were there, please do get in touch. Our focus is on what happened to Tyler and who was responsible.”

The detective added: “Similarly, if you were driving through Elmwood Avenue, returning home or out walking, did you notice anything? Did you perhaps see Tyler, who was wearing dark clothing, riding his grey bike or did you see him with anyone?

“The H25 bus route goes through Elmwood Avenue, were you travelling through this area on Wednesday or in the early hours of Thursday? Did you see Tyler or anyone matching his description?”

Detective Howie said Mr Donnelly’s family and friends “are inconsolable after receiving the worst possible news imaginable”.

“Our thoughts are with them and they are being supported by specialist officers.”

No arrests have been made and police said a post-mortem examination will be carried out in due course.

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Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, leading policing in Hounslow, said: “It saddens me to see another young life so needlessly cut short and I urge anyone who has information about who is responsible to get in touch with the investigation team.

“I know that this incident will be a shock for those living and working in the area and my officers will be conducting additional patrols to provide reassurance to the community.”

Wayne Brown: West Midlands Fire Service chief fire officer found dead at home | UK News

The chief fire officer at West Midlands Fire Service has been found dead at his home amid claims made about his qualifications for the role made on social media.

In a statement from Greg Brackenridge, chairman of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We are devastated to report that our chief fire officer, Wayne Brown, was this morning found dead at his home address.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious by West Midlands Police.

“All our thoughts and love are with his family, his friends and his colleagues.

“We ask everyone that his family and his colleagues are given time and space at this tragic time.”

West Midlands Police said: “We can confirm that we attended an address in Birmingham this morning where the body of a man in his 50s was sadly found.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and we are liaising with the local coroner.

“A formal identification will take place in due course.”

Allegations about Mr Brown had been made on social media this week, and the fire service had begun an investigation.

A statement from the service said: “We are aware of claims referencing our Chief Fire Officer and West Midlands Fire Service.

“Formal enquiries and processes, in line with our Fire Authority’s constitution, are now ongoing in relation to the matters raised. We will undertake this thoroughly and fairly.

“In the meantime, we will not be commenting further.”

Bradley Lowery: West Bromwich Albion suspend fan over ‘disgusting’ tweet about cancer victim | UK News

A football supporter has been suspended by his club after an alleged “hateful” social media post about Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery was shared online.

West Bromwich Albion said in a statement they are “appalled” by the “disgusting” post.

The Championship club said it is helping police with their inquiries after hearing about a “hateful social media post referencing Bradley in the wake of the club’s defeat at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

“Bradley was an inspirational young Sunderland fan who captured the heart of the nation as he bravely battled stage four high risk neuroblastoma – a rare form of childhood cancer – before his tragic passing, aged just six in, 2017,” read a club statement.

“Albion have identified and suspended the account of a supporter pending further legal inquiries and reserves the right to issue an indefinite club ban.

“The club are appalled by the disgusting post and offer their sincere apologies to Sunderland AFC and the Lowery family”.

Bradley Lowery, aged five, who is terminally ill with cancer, meets Sunderland's Jermain Defoe. Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive
Bradley Lowery with Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe. Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive

The Bradley Lowery Foundation said on X it was “extremely sad that this keeps happening”.

Last month, a Sheffield Wednesday season ticket holder who mocked the boy’s death at a match, was given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.

A judge told Dale Houghton, 32, from Rotherham, his actions were “utterly appalling”.

Before he died, Bradley, who was a Sunderland mascot, was pictured with his favourite player, Jermain Defoe.

The striker spent time in hospital with Bradley and led out the England side with him for an international match.

Police launch manhunt after woman dies in West Yorkshire | UK News

Police have launched a manhunt after a woman died in West Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire Police said officers were called to a property where the woman was found seriously injured in the Ravensthorpe area of Dewsbury at 6.43pm on Sunday.

The woman later died, the force said.

An air ambulance near the scene. Pic: YappApp
An air ambulance near the scene. Pic: YappApp

It said officers had a named suspect and “significant enquiries are ongoing to find and arrest him”.

“While police understand that this incident will cause concern in the local community, this investigation is in its very early stages and members of the public are urged to avoid potentially unhelpful speculation,” it added.

“If anyone does have any information that could assist the police in their enquiries, they are asked to contact the police as a matter of urgency.”

Footage from the scene showed a large police presence and an air ambulance nearby.

Dozens of armed officers were reported to be on the scene and a number of police cordons were in place in the area.