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**Sat 17 Oct 15**
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- May says The Sky At Night presenter was 'undervalued' by BBC
- Claims corporation 'had never really looked after' his close friend
- Also says BBC lavished money on 2011 series presented by Cox
- May was encouraged by 'honorary uncle' in his astrophysics PhD

17 October 2015 by Jonathan Petre

Queen guitarist Brian May has criticised the BBC over its treatment of the late astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, saying he was ‘undervalued’ and ‘taken for granted’ compared with today’s celebrity scientists such as Brian Cox. The rock star said the BBC had paid Sir Patrick – who presented The Sky At Night for more than 50 years – ‘a pittance’ and ‘had never really looked after him’.

May, a close friend of the astronomer, described him as a national treasure who had been a huge influence on him. But he added: ‘The budget for the show was close to zero.’

Brian May and Patrick Moore

Close friends: Queen guitarist Brian May said the BBC had paid Sir Patrick Moore (together in 2008) – who presented The Sky At Night for more than 50 years – ‘a pittance’ and ‘had never really looked after him’

Comparison: May said the corporation had lavished money on the 2011 Wonders of the Universe series (above) presented by Brian Cox, a physics professor and former pop star

In contrast, he added, the corporation had lavished money on the 2011 Wonders of the Universe series presented by Cox, a physics professor and former pop star.

May said: ‘Suddenly it is all very glamorous, and they send him off to Niagara Falls to photograph a rainbow at a cost of probably tens of thousands of pounds. I thought, “My God, why did you never give Patrick that kind of budget?”

May, who was encouraged by his ‘honorary uncle’ to complete his PhD in astrophysics and appeared on his shows, added: ‘You wouldn’t believe the scraping around they had to do to make The Sky At Night. The BBC got away with a lot. They took him for granted.’

The proceeds from two auctions of items belonging to Sir Patrick raised tens of thousands of pounds earlier this month. His famous monocle sold for £688.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Patrick Moore was a much-loved and hugely valued presenter who we have celebrated during his lifetime and following his death.’

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**Sat 17 Oct 15**
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Brian May

17 October 2015

The killing of Cecil the Lion, lured from his home in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park by American Trophy Hunter Walter Palmer in July this year, shocked and outraged people around the world.

Cecil was a popular figure within the park, head of his own pride and the subject of a research project by Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). Although Cecil had a conspicuous radio collar around his neck, making it clear that he was not ‘wild’, Palmer shot him with a crossbow, followed the wounded and suffering lion for hours, and finally killed, decapitated and skinned him, claiming his black mane was the trophy he most wanted on his wall.

Dr Brian May’s Save Me Trust are calling for the creation of a “Cecil’s Law” in the UK - a fitting legacy for this magnificent creature who, by his death, opened millions of eyes to the disgusting 'sport' of trophy hunting, and ‘canned hunting’ in which wild animals are actually bred in captivity purely to be slaughtered for fun. Cecil’s Law would ban the import of animal body parts as trophies to the UK from anywhere in the world. It’s possible that the law would also begin to eliminate similar cruel activities in the UK.

A 10 minute rule bill is set to be introduced that will call on David Cameron’s government to introduce Cecil’s Law without delay.

Brian May said: "It would be wonderful if all the new determination by the public to end this senseless slaughter, inspired by Cecil’s death, were turned into action, to end such atrocities. We believe such a step would be welcomed by the vast majority of the British public - in a sense, Cecil’s legacy. Progress towards outlawing cruelty to animals is above politics. It is about dignity, decency and humanity. We call on all who care about our fellow creatures to sign the new petition to bring in Cecil’s Law”

Will Travers, President of the Born Free Foundation said:
“This story is so shocking on so many levels. Cecil was of huge value to Zimbabwe’s economy and their Wildlife Service. Now he is gone. According to information I have received, the carcass of a freshly killed animal – a ‘bait’ – was used to lure Cecil out of the protected area where he was shot with a bow and arrow. The use of a bow and arrow could imply either that the hunter wished to do this on the quiet – no gunshot – or that he was able to get up close enough to use a bow and arrow. Cecil was not afraid of people and so relatively approachable.”

Will went on to say: “Cecil was also collared and was part of a long-running Oxford University Research Project. Tragically, 24 of the 62 lions that have been tagged by the project have been shot by sport-hunters and one can only imagine the negative impact that the sport hunting of lions is having on the population of Zimbabwe.”

Comedian Ricky Gervais says: "It's not for food. It's not the shooting, or tin cans would do. It must just be the thrill of killing. Mental."

MC Hammer said: "Can't believe this man counted it as valor to lure him out of his protective home and kill him."

Anne Brummer, CEO Save Me Trust said: “Cecil’s death was brutal and pointless. We want to stop trophy hunting by banning the import of animal body parts into the UK and encourage other countries to follow our lead. Cecil’s Law will be a lasting legacy for a magnificent lion.”

For more information click here.

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**Fri 16 Oct 15**
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Brian May was in the audience for a show at the Royal Albert Hall to mark Cliff Richard's 75th birthday, Wednesday night (14 Oct)

16 October 2015 by Simon Cable

- Let's get physical! Olivia gives her old pal Cliff a special 75th birthday hug after joining him on stage at the Albert Hall
- Singer Cliff Richard celebrated turning 75 at London's Royal Albert Hall
- Joined on stage by old friend, Australian singer Olivia Newton John
- Tributes also paid by Sir Elton John, Brian May, and Jimmy Tarbuck

He once insisted he wanted to play tennis on his 100th birthday. And judging by this energetic display, Sir Cliff Richard has a good chance of achieving it. The singer celebrated turning 75 on Wednesday evening with a typically age-defying performance on stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The star was joined on stage by a host of celebrities, including Olivia Newton John and Paul O’Grady, who gushed to the audience about Sir Cliff’s legendary career, which has now spanned six decades.

At one point Miss Newton John led a chorus of Happy Birthday, prompting the audience into an enthusiastic sing-a-long.
Tributes from artists such as Sir Elton John, Queen guitarist Brian May and comedian Jimmy Tarbuck were broadcast through a television screen at the back of the stage, with many praising the star’s longevity and huge chart success.

Read more: HERE

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**Fri 16 Oct 15**
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It has just been confirmed that “One Night in Hell” will be made into a major stop-motion animation and live action mix feature, produced by Unanico Group and Duck Productions, in association with The London Stereoscopic Company, involving some of the biggest names in the film industry.

Gary Kurtz (Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Dark Crystal) is set to be a Producer, teaming up with production partners MacKinnon & Saunders (Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, Fantastic Mr Fox).

In addition to composing the soundtrack, Brian May will be an Executive Producer on the film.

The film will be directed by Jason Jameson from a screenplay by Jason Jameson & Paul Laikin. Paul Laikin will also produce for Unanico Group.

The film is in development now for release in 2019.

The creators are currently in discussion with voice talent and distributors.

The feature is based on the critically acclaimed short film “One Night in Hell,” directed by Jason Jameson & James Hall, and produced by Unanico Group and Duck Productions in association with The London Stereoscopic Company. The short film has launched at over 20 film festivals worldwide, was given five stars in the British press, proclaimed by Esquire to be the “best film you’ll see all Halloween,” and hit the number one spot for short films on iTunes. The short film is currently featuring at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights in Los Angeles.

For further information, please visit or download the Diableries app (App Store/Google Play).

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**Thu 15 Oct 15**
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Loose Women

TV - Anita will be back again for the fourth time as guest panellist on the "Loose Women" programme on ITV, 22 October! See below for her last appearance on the show.

Anita Dobson - Wicked Queen

Anita will also be appearing in Pantomime again this year - "Sleeping Beauty" at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking. The show runs Friday 4 December 2015 to Sunday 10 January 2016.

Please note Anita takes over from Katie Price as the Wicked Queen, Carabosse, from Monday 28 December through till 10 January (2 weeks only).

Ticket link (selling fast !!)

More info: The Anita Dobson Fan Club

Anita's last appearance on the programme quite recently...

June Brown And Anita Dobson Reunite | Loose Women -

Calendar Girls Photoshoot With Anita Dobson And Andrea McLean | Loose Women

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**Thu 15 Oct 15**
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As previously reported, Brian features on guitar on this forthcoming release, slated for 20 November:

Soundcheck album

Soundcheck [PRE-ORDER]
Leslie West (Artist) Format: Audio CD

1. Left By The Roadside To Die
2. Give Me One Reason
3. Here For The Party
4. You Are My Sunshine
5. Empty Promises / Nothin' Sacred
6. A Stern Warning
7. People Get Ready
8. Going Down (ft Brian May)
9. Stand By Me
10. Eleanor Rigby
11. Spoonful

Leslie West of Mountain will be joined by a number of special guests on his new solo release. Brian May of Queen and Peter Frampton are both set to appear on Soundcheck. Jethro Tull‘s Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die! is also being released in an expanded edition that includes an alternate version of the 1976 album recorded for a British television special. [Ultimate Classic Rock]

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**Wed 14 Oct 15**
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Stereoscopy: the Othr Victorian Sensation

On the 21st of October, at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Denis Pellerin will give a talk entitled
Stereoscopy: the Other Victorian Sensation.

Over 130 stereo photos will be shown in glorious 3-D thanks to the use of two projectors and some interference glasses.


21 Oct 2015
Stereoscopy: the Other Victorian Sensation
Talk by phot historian Denis Pellerin
18:30-20:00 (doors open 18:15)

National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Auditorium, Level 1 (entry via Lothian Street)

£6, £5, Members and Concessions
Adults 14+

For more info call 0300 123 6789 or book tickets online click here

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**Wed 14 Oct 15**
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Full interview with Brian May of Queen talking about Rory Gallagher and Taste from the new film "What's Going On - Taste Live At The Isle Of Wight". The film and soundtrack are out now: DVD |Blu-Ray | 2-LP and CD formats.


What made you go to the Marquee club, when you first went, the time you saw Taste? What was it about the place?

BRIAN MAY: The Marquee Club. Well it was the legendary place in those days. That’s where everybody played who was anybody and me and my mates used to go down there wherever we could whenever we could, I beg your pardon and certain nights would be certain things. Mr Gee was there, the manager was there saying this is so-and-so night and whatever, and Thursday night for a long time I think was The Nice.

We would go to see The Nice every week and Rory Gallagher also had a residency there. We’d go and see Rory every week and just open mouthed, I think, at the way the guy played and the person he was and the way he interacted with his audience, the way he could just hold people by tapping his foot or his fingers or whatever he did. You know, he was just a magician as far as we were concerned as an entertainer and funny enough he probably wouldn’t think of himself as an entertainer. He’s such a pure man, Rory. He thought of himself as a musician and he never made any compromise towards building himself into a superstar but we went there every every week and saw Taste and they were magnificent. It was incredible.

(Continues below... )


Brian May Interview On Taste & Rory Gallagher -

You mentioned the relation to the audience, was that something, was that you hadn’t seen before? How would you analyse that? What was special? What had he done that others hadn’t done?

I think Rory’s elemental and people could sense that. There’s no pretence whatsoever. There’s no showmanship, which hides what the real man is and he just came on there and played and would talk and you felt like you had a one-to-one relationship with him. That’s the way I see it. And his playing was incredible. He’s one of the very few people of that time who could make his guitar do anything it seems. Just seemed to be magic.

I remember looking at this battered Stratocaster and thinking ‘How does that come out of there? How does he do that? And we - we were boys. We hung around and hid when the Marquee was at turning out time, and then we kind of strolled over as if we ought to be there and [say[ ‘Mr Gallagher, can you chat to you’, or whatever - I don’t know what we said . He was incredibly patient. He was packing up his own gear, that’s the kind of man he was. He was packing up his guitar and his amp and everything and he had the grace to speak to us. He didn’t go ‘Get out of here. What you boys doing in here?’ and I said ‘How do you get the sound? What do you do?’ and he said ‘Oh, it’s very simple… I have this guitar and I have this little AC30 amp which is like nothing else and I had this little treble booster, Rangemaster treble booster, and that’s where the comes from.’

So I went straight out and got the AC30 and the treble booster, and my own homemade guitar thinking, ‘I wonder if this is gonna work?’, but basically it did. As soon as I plugged in.

I went to a place called “Take 5” in Wardour Street, not far from the Marquee and found a battered old AC30, which was for sale for 50 quid, I think, plugged Rangemaster treble booster into it, with my guitar, and it gave me what I wanted. It made guitar speak, so it was Rory that gave me my sound and that’s the sound I still have. That that’s my voice, so I have so much to be thankful to Rory for.

So those are the main things you took from the experience of meeting him? What did you take from him that went into your playing?

I took a lot more from Rory really because a lot of his technique was snapping on and snapping off, and that fascinated me. It seemed to make the guitar much more flexible, so that way he did his riffs like [ding ding... guitar noises] ‘Morning Sun' and [makes guitar noises] ’What’s Going On?’ [guitar noises] hat I incorporated into my playing. I learned that directly from him, so something like ‘Tie Our Mother Down’, is really direct lineage from Rory.

Tell you what else I learned form Rory. Don’t be an ass, you know so many people you go up to them to say you know can I talk to you, and they go ‘I’m too busy’, or whatever, Rory was always a gentleman. He always had time for his fans and many many times I bumped into him he was he was always the same. I think the last time I bumped into him was in some studio in Shepherds Bush somewhere, and it was exactly the same. He said, ‘Oh hello Brian. How are you going on?’ He had such a gentlemanly gentle way about him, Rory, and I thought well, he’s treated me like that because we know each other now, But it went through my mind, he treated me exactly the same when I was a kid and he was a star in the Marquee. He was always polite. He was always caring, always had time to speak to you. So that’s what I took from Rory. He’s a gentleman and he had time for people, and my God could he play that guitar.

He sounds quite a self-effacing guy. What you see, should he have been pushier? I don’t know.

No, 'cos he wouldn’t have been Rory Gallagher if he’d been more pushy. No, he did it for the love and I saw him all over the world we used to bump into him, and I remember seeing him in Boston and it was the time of Aerosmith and us - we were the bands of the time. We were quite showy, you know. We consciously putting on a show. Rory had a very pure basic attitude. It was like ‘I go there and I play and I play my songs, and I speak to the audience, and you give me a couple of lights, give me my amps’, and that was enough.

He wasn’t into that kind of thing. He was not into show biz and that’s part of him and that’s part of what we have to love and respect. Of course, he didn’t get the recognition he deserved, no way, because I think he side-stepped the things which would have made him a Bruce Springsteen or an Aerosmith or whatever you know. He just was always content to play and he liked the club environment - that’s obvious. He probably wouldn’t have enjoyed that much doing stadium shows because he would have taken his intimacy away. I don’t know you know, I’m guessing, but the guy had no - Rory didn’t - well the Rory Gallagher’s that i saw didn’t have ambition outside being a fabulous musician, playing fabulous music.

Did you ever play his guitar. That’s a bit of a question.

Now that is a question, I can’t - you know I can’t remember. Don’t quote me ‘cos I can’t remember. It’s shame, isn’t it. I’d love to be able to say yes.

You talked earlier about sticking together as a good idea. Did you feel that the members of Taste was something that held them together? What was it held them together?

Well, Taste is a little bit different from Deep Purple, I would say, because Taste is so much focussed on Rory. It is his band. It is his songs. It’s him whose doing the talking and the playing and the singing, so I don’t know if we were conscious of the interactions between the members of Taste and I also don’t know what happened when they split up. I wasn’t party to that. I don’t know what feelings were like, but seeing Rory Gallagher with his subsequent bands, I didn’t get a terrible sense of loss. May be that’s a terrible thing to say, you know. I think Taste is still some of my favourite music that Rory made but I enjoyed seeing him with his other bands as well, just as much, because I guess I didn’t really take me’ eyes off Rory. [laughs] That’s the way it was really.

Did you ever get the chance to talk to Rory about the influence he had on you?

Yeah. Yeah, I think whenever I bumped into Rory I was conscious that I wanted to let him know how much he’d given me. Yes, so I generally did make a point and he was always like you know, very self-effacing, was Rory, but yeah I would make a point and I’m glad I did. I’m glad I took the opportunity. My God he was taken from us so prematurely, it’s awful, and so sad. What a great guy, what a wonderful player.

The last thing, Brian, is give you a list of songs from the set list from the Isle of Wight. I made this quickly, see if any specific memories for you.

What’s Going On?

That’s off the “On The Boards” album - yes I learnt it, you know. There’s not many guitarists that I actually learn, but I did[guitar noises]. It’s a nice little exercise for anybody whose learning the guitar to play that track, ‘What’s Going On?’ It has a nice way of pounding as well, you know, it’s a real out and out rocker and he can he can sing, sing the hell out of it.

’Sugar Mama’

I don’t know it so well

I’ve got ‘Morning Sun’, which we touched on.

‘Morning Sun’’s great and ‘Morning Sun,’ of course, has that syncopation which is fairly rare in sort of great rock hits [guitar noises] very - it’s much more blues than rock and much more blues than pop, of course. I think Rory never could have been called a pop star. He never came close to being a pop star by choice, and yeah, that’s one of my favourites. Always will be and we will still play it at soundchecks. It’ll always be inside me.

‘I’ll Remember’?

Yeah, ‘I’ll Remember’. That’s nice. There’s a lot of heart in this song. It’s the sort of wistful side to Rory. Love that.

‘You’re So Good’?

No. [chuckles]

‘Catfish Blues’?

Yeah, I know “Catfish Blues’. It’s good, good Rory standard. Yeah, I think that’s another thing that anyone can play when they get together and jam, you know. They don’t wanna play just ordinary 12-bar blues. Play something by Rory - a little twist there.

And the last is ‘Same Old Story’.

‘Old Story’s great. It could almost be Rory’s epitaph couldn’t it really, you know.

I didn’t know Rory well enough to know what his private life was like, you know, what his love life was like, but I get the impression he was so dedicated to playing it was probably, it probably had to be a very much second thing, you know. the secondary activity. I feel like I know Rory probably better through Donnell, since he went, 'cos Donnell told me a few things about him as a person, which are revealing, you know, and I think there is a lot of sadness in his songs, but Rory probably would always understate that ‘cos it was about performance and connection. He wouldn’t wallow in something being sad.


On 18 September 2015, Eagle Rock Entertainment released “What’s Going On – Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970” by Taste. This is a simultaneous release on DVD, Blu-ray, 2LP and CD formats represents the first ever video release of this legendary performance.

The film tells the story of Eire's seminal rock band Taste, formed in Cork, Ireland in 1966 by Rory Gallagher, Taste had a brief but influential career, releasing two studio albums in 1969 and 1970 and disbanding shortly after their legendary appearance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival, which is the centrepiece of this film. The core of “What’s Going On” is the band’s performance at the festival on August 28th but it is encapsulated by a documentary on the history and importance of Taste and setting the scene for their Isle Of Wight Festival appearance. This features contributions from Rory’s brother and Taste road manager Donal Gallagher along with Brian May (Queen), The Edge (U2), Bob Geldof and renowned guitarist Larry Coryell. Taste’s performance at the festival was so well received that Jimi Hendrix when asked on the Sunday, “How does it feel to be the best guitarist in the world”, replied, “I don’t know, why don’t you go and ask Rory Gallagher?” READ MORE on

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Tue 13 Oct 15**
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12 October 2015

It was a sparkling night for wildlife at the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s annual Wildlife Ball.

Hosted by The Dorchester in London on Friday October 9th, 300 guests mingled with celebrities to help raise over £150,000 for endangered wildlife. A stunning set from legendary Queen guitarist, Dr Brian May and singer Kerry Ellis – which included the premier of Brian’s launch video for Cecil’s Law and an acoustic version of Crazy Little Thing Called Love – was followed on the big screen by a heartfelt appeal from former Spice GirlMelanie C, for everyone to play their part to help save wildlife.

“It was an incredible night for wildlife,” says CEO Sally Case. “The depth of support that we, as a small charity, generate illustrates just how important wildlife is to so many people and to the sustainable future of our planet and all of us, where ever we live.”

Calling for supporters to be part of the generation that cares, David Shepherd’s granddaughters – the artist Emily Lamb and the Foundation’s event manager, Georgina Lamb – echoed the call for the younger generation to take up the baton to protect precious wildlife and wild spaces.

Adding additional excitement to the evening were Mark King from Level 42 (who sang happy birthday to a guest raising £1,000), TV presenter and auctioneer Charlie Ross who helped command almost £60,000 in the live auction of artwork donated by the Shepherd family, British designer and supporter Elizabeth Emanuel, TV presenter Kate Silverton and Olympic gold medal winning rower Alex Gregory.


14 October 2015

A host of celebrities witnessed a stunning set from Brian May at the annual David Shepherd Wildlife Ball last Friday (October 9). Queen's legendary guitarist, from Windlesham, shared the stage with singer Kerry Ellis and performed an acoustic version of the classic 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love'.

The event, which was hosted by The Dorchester in London, saw hundreds of guests attending to help raise more than £150,000 for endangered wildlife

May's performance was followed on the big screen by a heartfelt appeal from former Spice Girl, Melanie C, for everyone to play their part to help save wildlife.

Sally Case, CEO of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, based in Shalford, said: “It was an incredible night for wildlife.

“The depth of support that we, as a small charity, [can] generate illustrates just how important wildlife is to so many people and to the sustainable future of our planet and all of us, whether we live in Shalford, London, Zambia or Assam."

Other stars played their part for the night, including Mark King from Level 42 who sang happy birthday to a guest, raising £1,000 in the process.

TV presenter and auctioneer Charlie Ross helped command almost £60,000 in a live auction of artwork donated by the Shepherd family, while British designer and supporter Elizabeth Emanuel, TV presenter Kate Silverton and Olympic gold medal winning rower Alex Gregory also took part.

May is an avid animal rights campaigner who founded the Save Me charity in 2010 and has battled against controversial government badger culls across the country.

Last year, he was voted Campaigner of the Year at the Observer Ethical Awards for his Team Badger and Save Me campaigns.

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**Mon 12 Oct 15**
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Queen - A Night At The Odeon
Getty Images

The new incarnation of "Queen A Night At The Odeon - Hammersmith 1975" "premiered at an 8 October screening at Olympic Studios, Barnes (now a cinema) in West London. Brian May attended and witnessed his younger self play this milestone concert in Queen's career.

Following the screening he told Rolling Stone: "It was very weird. It seems like watching another person, that young boy. I look so thin! I look very serious and the body language is so different now – I was quite shy in those days. There was a lot of noise and energy in the playing, but my body is different from the way I am now. These days I feel a channel in the body towards the noise that's coming out, but in those days it looks like it just comes from nowhere.

It felt great at the time. There was a lot of adrenalin, a lot of joy because all our fans who'd followed us on the tour had all scrambled to get in there. Roger [Taylor] was really sick – he looks pretty good but he was feeling really bad. I think he threw up afterwards but you wouldn't know."

We've never played 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in full, because the middle bit is a little work of art, it's something that's painted on a canvas and you can't really reproduce that – or, at least, we prefer not to try the operatic bits. It's a choice we made early on; we thought, 'We don't want to be standing there trying to reproduce 140 voices in the studio.' You can't really pretend you're doing that on stage.

They [the audience] sing along on some things but not a lot. In those days, people went to a rock show to listen – and to jump about and scream and shout, but not to sing every word like they do now. And there's nobody with mobile phones in the audience, nobody doing selfies – how weird is that?"

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**Mon 12 Oct 15**
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Brian has donated black trainers to this auction - as pictured below.

PRESS RELEASE: Small Steps Celebrity Shoe Auction 2015

Going live on November 1st 2015 - HERE

It’s the Small Steps Project 6th annual Celebrity Shoes Auction, raising funds to provide shoes, emergency aid and sustainable solutions for children surviving on rubbish dumps.

Brian Black Trainers - 2 close up

Why Shoes?

Former Celebrity Reporter, Amy Hanson, founded the charity after she visited a rubbish dump in Cambodia. She was so shocked seeing thousands of barefoot children, scavenging through toxic waste for survival, that she quit her job and asked every celebrity she had interviewed to donate their shoes for auction, so she could provide shoes to children living on landfill.

Today the charity provides nurseries, neonatal, medical, education, hygiene, nutrition and outreach projects for children in Romania, Cambodia and Laos. Thanks to the incredible support of celebrities the charity not only protects children's feet but supports them in taking small steps off the dump and out of poverty. This year over 100 celebrities have taken a small step including:

Alistair Brownlee, Adam Levine, Andrew Garfield, Annie Lennox, Art Garfunkel, Avicii, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benicio del Toro, Beyonce, Bill Nighy, Bonnie Wright, Brian May, Bryan Ferry, Cate Blanchett, Charles Dance, Cher Lloyd, Chris Hemsworth, Christina Aguilera, Christina, Hendricks, Clive Owen, Colin Firth, Daniel, Radcliffe, Danny O'Donoghue, Darcey Bussell, De La Soul, Didier Drogba, Dita Von Teese, Ed Miliband, Elsie, Eminem, Emma Watson, Eric Idle, Eva Longoria, Fergie, Florence Welch, Free Like Me, Garbine Muguruza, George Clinton, Gwen Stefani, Helena Bonham Carter, Helena Christensen, Hozier, Iain Glen, Isla Fisher, Iwan Rheon, James Purefoy, Jess Glynne, Jessie J, Joan Smalls, John Travolta, Jonathan Brownlee, Kate Moss, Kate Nash, Kenny Rogers, Kevin Spacey, La Roux, Leanne Rhymes, Liam Gallagher, Lily Allen, Lindsay Lohan, Lionel Richie, Maisie Williams, Maria Sharapova, Mark Owen, Matt Le Blanc, Meg Mathews, Melissa Rauch, Michael Caine, Michael K Williams, Michelle Keegan, Nick Cave, Nico Hulkenberg, Norman Reedus, Oliver Proudlock, One Direction, Ozzy Osbourne, Paloma Faith, Patti Smith, Paul Smith, Peter Egan, Pink, Rachel McAdams, Ralph Fiennes, Richard Branson, Ricky Gervais, Rita Ora, Rod Stewart, Roger Federer, Rupert Grint, Russell Crowe, Sacha Baron Cohen, Serena Williams, Sir Tom Jones, Simon Pegg, Sol Campbell, Steve McQueen, Suede, The Waterboys, Thiago Alcantara, Tom Hiddleston and Vivienne Westwood.

See all their full profiles HERE

Exclusive photos of the celebrities, their shoes and quirky quotes are available now contact:

This auction is unique because 100% of the funds raised go to the charity, thanks to the incredible generosity of auction managers Sellebrity and Photographers I Heart Studios

Brian May Black trainers - 1

Brian May Black trainers - 2

Brian May Black trainers -3

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**Sat 10 Oct 15**
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Brian May: the truth about Sir Patrick Moore's estate
9 October 2015
Brian May, the Queen guitarist, sets the record straight about what has happened with the estate of his friend Sir Patrick Moore

Sir Patrick and Brian May
Sir Patrick and Brian May

Hello, all who loved Sir Patrick Moore. Brian May here.

Since there has been a lot of speculation out there in the media about Sir Patrick Moore’s will and estate, and, sadly, a lot of misleading information has appeared, I’d like to offer this as an update, addressed to all who are interested in the great man’s legacy.

We’re now close to finalising the realisation of all the provisions of Patrick’s will, but it’s been a long haul, since some of it was so complicated, and, two years later, we’re still addressing the remaining unsolved problems (thankfully all small ones now) in winding up dear Patrick’s affairs. We’re a small bunch of devotees, we whom Patrick appointed as his executors, and I can tell you that everything that we’ve put in place has been worked on with a great deal of love and care.

I’m not going to pretend that much of the credit is due to me. Patrick’s close friend and now retired solicitor David McCahearty has devoted immense amounts of time to sorting out all the various areas, and ‘devoted’ is the word. The truth is, without his work, we would all be in chaos at this point, and all the money might have disappeared ! (I’ll explain why, later) I should point out that neither David nor I are beneficiaries of the will, so we don’t stand to profit in any way from it. Patrick did, however, name beneficiaries – a small group of chaps whom Patrick ‘adopted’ as his honorary Godsons. Patrick took care of them in life and in death.

The Science Museum

Our central achievement, I think, is the now finalised major arrangement with the Science Museum for the core of Patrick’s ‘professional’ effects (even though he insisted to the end he was an amateur !). The Science Museum’s intent is to mount a permanent ‘shrine’ to Patrick, and also to make the core of his observations and his collection permanently available to scholars. And so we will eventually see, if the Science Museum keep their promise, a permanent national monument to Patrick in the most important public science facility in Britain. I think it would make him smile.

As I’ll explain more fully later, we had to give up our initial idea of converting Farthings into some kind of study centre or memorial for Patrick. It was simply impractical for a number of reasons. But I think we achieved something much better.

The Science Museum spent months sifting through thousands of items in Patrick’s library and collection, to ascertain which of his belongings constituted the central core of his life and work. As Patrick’s executors, we finally handed this core collection over to the Science Museum earlier this year, in return for a sum of money which is dedicated to founding, as agreed by of all the trustees, the Patrick Moore Heritage Trust. The PMHT has now been fully incorporated by David as a charity, to act as a channel for inspirational work in Astronomy on Patrick’s behalf – a scheme which Patrick thoroughly approved personally while he was still in operational health. This is something Patrick himself was very excited about. We were able to set it in motion with him while he was still alive, with his full participation and approval, rather than wait for his demise to begin putting the project together.

Sir Patrick Moore during filming of The Sky At Night
Sir Patrick Moore during filming of the iconic The Sky At NightSir Patrick Moore
during filming of the iconic The Sky At Night Photo: REX FEATURES

Chichester Planetarium

Some special items relating to Patrick’s work we then earmarked as donations to Patrick’s favourite project in his latter years … the Chichester Planetarium. Patrick spent a lot of his own money helping this splendid institution to get started, under the leadership of eminent astronomer Dr. John Mason, and he also spent much of his spare time contributing to its development. If you visit (highly recommended), the first thing you see when you walk in will be the very convincing waxwork of Patrick, looking every inch the way he used to look when he was delivering a talk to a bunch of young astronomers. We believe this small but busy planetarium is one of the best possible living monuments to Patrick’s lifelong commitment to Astronomy. Every year it gives thousands of young students their first taste of the wonders of the Universe – and doubtless at this very moment is inspiring the next generation of Astronomers – as Patrick himself did for over half a century. As of today there are exciting new developments at the planetarium as it looks as if permission will be granted for it to expand to accommodate a study centre wing, plus the possibility of a unique astronomical garden and a small museum.

Sir Patrick Moore photographed at his home
Sir Patrick Moore Sir Patrick Moore photographed at his home Photo: PAUL GROVER

Moore Music, Cricket, and Herschel

Another special area to consider was Patrick’s music. Well, it’s been well taken care of. We have entrusted all the Patrick’s manuscripts of Patrick’s musical compositions to his favourite protégé, xylophonist Chris Beaumont, who has been keeping Patrick’s music alive in his live performances. We have safety copies of everything lodged in my archives. We also headed Patrick’s favourite Xylophone Chris’s way. I have also archived (alongside Queen treasures) all the recorded works that we have been able to find, and we are in the process of safety-copying all of them too. Yet another special area ? Cricket. Patrick was a real enthusiast, and had a reputation for being a spectacularly bad batsman but a mean bowler of that odd delivery Known as a Googly. We donated his beloved cricket bat to his favourite institution - the Selsey Cricket Club. And one more ! Patrick had a special regard for the eminent Victorian astronomer William Herschel. He devoted much time to helping the small but fascinating Herschel Museum in Bath, and became their patron. After Patrick passed on, the Herschel Museum asked me to take over as their Patron. Among Patrick’s treasures were a number of items which related directly to Herschel. We all agreed that these should be donated to the Museum, to be enjoyed by its visitors.

Sir Patrick Moore was well known as a xylophone player
Sir Patrick Moore was well known as a xylophone player Photo: REX FEATURES


After all this, there still remained another large part of the collection which constituted the most saleable of Patrick’s other collected effects; some of this material is what we consigned to be sold at Christies (totally incorrectly referred to in the media as “Patrick’s Worldly Goods), and the remainder is to be auctioned in Chichester. These are mostly personal things; we felt Patrick would be happy if his many thousands of his fans had a chance to acquire something small as a keepsake.

This in turn left us with one more task: to sensibly dispose of the remaining largely unsaleable stuff, from random books not associated with his work and not otherwise special, down to stacks of photocopies of journals, and old newspapers, etc. Anyone who has dealt with executing a relative’s will knows that you eventually get down to things like tissue dispensers and old picture frames, which are not easy to find homes for, and in the end are best dealt with in small bundles, sent to charity shops and the like.

There has always been a risk that the total receipts from Patrick’s chattels would not even cover the costs of the administration in disposing of them, and of course we still cannot be sure what the monies from Christies, etc, will amount to. But I believe that we will have sufficient to cover it, and also some money left over to enable the Heritage Trust to begin its work.


Booklaunch of "The Cosmic Tourist" by Brian May, Patrick Moore, Chris Linstott at Patrick Moore's house in Selsey, Sussex, UK. Pictured Patrick Moore with the book. 17 October 2012
Sir Patrick, who fronted BBC1's Sky at Night since its launch in 1957, cultivated a 'mad professor'
image which attracted millions of viewers Photo: RII SCHROER

Far Things

As many people close to Patrick know, he was a very generous man, sometimes to the point of folly ! Although he made a significant income during his life from his books and other projects, towards the end of his life he found himself in a position where he could no longer sustain his outgoings. All of us who were close to Patrick blanched at the thought of this great man spending his last days in an old people’s home, rather than staying in his home and work place, affectionately named ‘Farthings’, with the thinly disguised alternative meaning “Far Things” – this being typical of Patrick’s gentle humour. He was above all, productive – that’s what he lived for. You might have thought that being a knight of the realm, and one of the most celebrated figures in Britain, people in high places would have stepped in and made sure his welfare was taken care of. But not so. At this point, realising the tragedy that was imminent, I secretly offered to bail him out. I bought first a strip of his garden to give him some ready cash, but then things continued to get worse, so I then bought the house and remaining land from Patrick and leased it back to him for a peppercorn rent, so he never had to worry about money again. To safeguard the money (so Patrick couldn’t give it all away !), the cash was put in his accountant’s care to be paid in yearly instalments to Patrick for his day to day upkeep and other calls. We had no idea how long his life was to be at that point, but in fact the instalments were to enable him to live comfortably in his beloved Farthings to the very end of his days. The arrangement was secret for some years, but was eventually ‘exposed’ by some busy-body newspaper reporter. The relatively small amount of cash left in Patrick’s accounts when he died goes directly to the four beneficiaries (only two of whom are also executors), split equally. His possessions, on the other hand, he directed to be disposed of by his executors as they saw fit. Patrick was not survived by any close relatives.


Just to fill in the gaps, we have all (David, John Mason and myself) spent the last 2 years trying to find a way for Farthings to be part of a monument of some kind to Patrick. All the proposals we have considered have come to a dead end, including the originally enthusiastic approaches of the local council. I am now convinced it is never going to happen. In the location of Farthings, there is simply no way to make the house sustainable as a study centre, museum or monument. It sits in a residential area, and so cannot be converted into commercial premises, it has no possibility of dedicated parking, and all our advice was that it would simply lose money consistently on upkeep and staffing, until it fell into disuse, obliterating the Heritage Trust’s funds, and becoming an embarrassment for Patrick’s memory. There have been a few armchair philosophers out there saying ‘it was Patrick’s dying wish that the house become a study centre’ … but of course all of us close to him know that this is simply not true. Patrick’s prime concerns, in order of priority, were Ptolemy - his beloved pussy cat - and his library. These were absolutely OUR priorities, and we believe his hopes are admirably fulfilled.

So the only other major problem to be solved is how to dispose decently of the empty house, Farthings. Unfortunately, it’s my problem ! I have now decided to bite the bullet and put it on the market, but with certain constraints. I’m considering putting covenants on the property, to try to prevent the land being sold on and split up for more dense, money-making house-building, which would have bothered Patrick, I’m sure, and would make life horrible for his neighbours. I’m sad to have to sell it at all, but I can’t live in it, and I believe we have now exhausted the exploration of all other possible futures for the house. Of course if someone came up with a workable plan to buy the house, keep it intact, and make it useable by the scientific community, I’d be all ears. But I don’t believe it will happen. I would be happy, and I believe so would Patrick, if it makes a home for a growing family – the kind of family Patrick once dreamed of raising.

Patrick and Ptolemy
Sir Patrick and Ptolemy

His last gruff words to me about the house were “I don’t want the house to be a rope around your neck, Brian. You should sell it for a profit. I would never have allowed you buy it from me unless that were the case”. I told him I really wouldn’t feel comfortable making a profit out if it; the whole point had been to preserve his quality of life, precious to us all. So that’s how we left it. He once again after that asked me to try to ensure his collection of ‘special’ books was preserved intact and accessible - his library. But he was astute, and realised that this might not mean that it remained physically in the house. I believe his library is headed to the place where it will be most appreciated and most useful to future generations of astronomers - The Science Museum. Supposing the sale of Farthings does show a profit, I have it in mind to donate that to the Chichester Museum for their expansion plans. I think that would be fitting.

Patrick’s legacy

So I believe we have, by due attentions, done our very best for Patrick’s legacy, and by the time we’re finished, we will have done him proud. His legacy will be immortality in the Science Museum, his work preserved for the Nation, a thriving teaching Chichester Planetarium, probably with at least a new wing added in his name, The Patrick Moore Heritage Trust, the continuation of the performance of his musical compositions, together with the protection of his recorded works, with a view to a reissue at some point, and his myriad archived appearances on The Sky At Night and other TV and Radio shows. But most of all, we all know that his greatest legacy is the current generation of top British astronomers, amateur and professional, who credit Patrick as their original insffpiration to do what they do now.

All Hail Sir Patrick !

Very best


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**Sat 10 Oct 15**
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"STARMUS Festival is where serious science finds a wider audience, where intellectual thought, nuance and complexity are celebrated, where the way scientists work is explored and where new ideas are harnessed. STARMUS III is entitled “Beyond the Horizon: Tribute to Stephen Hawking” and will take place from June 27th to July 2nd 2016 in the Canary Islands." -SH

Stephen Hawking: The Power of a Human Mind (Starmus)

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**Fri 09 Oct 15**
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David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation logo

Brian and Kerry will be playing a short set tonight at the Dorchester Hotel, London, for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

There will also be a premiere of the Cecil's Law video.

Warming up for night at Dorchester
Warming up for a great night The Dorchester with Brian May

EXTRACT FROM BOOKING PAGE: Join us for a spectacular night at the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London for our black tie dinner and dance. This fantastic fundraiser brings together sparkling entertainment including legendary Queen guitarist Brian May and chart topping singer Kerry Ellis along with wonderful food and fine wines in the Dorchester Ballroom.

Standard ticket price includes champagne reception with canapes , sumptuous four course dinner, entertainment and dancing!
Members: £200
Non-members: £220
Table of 12: £2,400
Platinum package - £5 ,000 SOLD OUT
Package includes a table of 12 with premier placement ( incl . champagne, dinner and a prime seat for the evening), Premium Sponsor listing in the event programme and in all related print material and an exclusive invitation to a pre-dinner VIP reception.
For tickets call DSWF on 01483 272323.

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**Thu 07 Oct 15**
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For exclusive news on what’s happening in Brian's wonderful stereo world, please follow:

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- and The London Stereoscopic Company website and Mailing List.

London Stereoscopic Company

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**Wed 07 Oct 15**
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STARGAZERS have launched a campaign to name a star after Britain's most beloved astronomer, the late Sir Patrick Moore.

7 October 2015 by Joel Watson

Sir Patrick Moore

Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore poses for a photograph during the Press and VIP day for Chelsea Flower Show GETTY

Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore might have his name written in the stars if the campaign succeeds
A group of astrological enthusiasts are lobbying a top space body to name a star after The Sky at Night presenter, who passed away at the age of 89 in 2012.

Sir Patrick, who served as the president of the British Astronomical Association, had a record-breaking run presenting his monthly astrology show, as it was the longest running show in television history with the same presenter.

The astronomer presented The Sky at Night for more than 50 years, and wrote 70 books on the galactic subject.

Allan McIntyre from the Ayrshire Astronomical Society, based in Ayrshire, Scotland who are campaigning for the star to be named after Moore, said they were through to the final of the competition and that every vote counted.

Brian May and Patrick Moore
Brian May and Sir Patrick Moore pose for a photograph
during the Press and VIP day for Chelsea Flower Show GETTY

Ex-Queen guitarist Brian May also wrote a book on astronomy and was friends with Sir Patrick.

Mr McIntyre said: "We recently entered a competition run by the International Astronomical Union to name a star and its exoplanets.

"We have chosen to name the star Upsilon Andromedae 'Moore' as we felt this would be a fitting tribute to a man who devoted his life to astronomy. Its three exoplanets we have named Sagan after the astronomer Carl Sagan, Clarke after Sir Arthur C Clarke and Schiehallion after the Scottish mountain used in 1774 by the-then Astronomer Royal in an experiment to calculate the mass of planet Earth.

Photorapher prepares to take star pictures

A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor
shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of nor GETTY

The star that could be named after Sir Patrick is currently named Upsilon Andromedae. Catchy!

"With enough votes this will become a reality so we are trying to inform as many people as possible as voting closes on October 31.V Anyone's help in this would be much appreciated and may put Sir Patrick's name among the stars he enjoyed so much."

Sir Patrick, although well known for his importance in the field of astronomy also came into the public eye for some of his political views. After fighting in Second World War, Sir Patrick became fiercely anti-European. He was quoted as saying in the Radio Times: "A Kraut is a Kraut is a Kraut. And the only good Kraut is a dead Kraut."

Despite his controversial opinions, physicist Brian Cox and ex-Queen guitarist Brian May counted the national treasure amongst their friends and biggest influences.

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*Wed 07 Oct 15**
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Brian May, songwriter, producer and legendary guitarist of QUEEN, and Kerry Ellis, one of the great new stars of London’s West End and Broadway, who have cooperated on the albums “Anthems” and “Acoustic by Candlelight”, have announced that they will extend their “One Voice” tour with 11 concerts in Eastern Europe in March 2016.

The full list of dates is as follows:

MARCH 2016 City / Venue   Ticket links
Sat 5th ZLIN / Congress Centre CZECH REPUBLIC
Sun 6th BRNO / Boby Centre CZECH REPUBLIC
Tue 8th PRAGUE / Congress Centre CZECH REPUBLIC
Wed 9th BRATISLAVA / Incheba Hall SLOVAKIA
Fri 11th BUDAPEST / Budapest Congress Centre HUNGARY
Sat 12th BUDAPEST / Budapest Congress Centre HUNGARY
Mon 14th BUCHAREST / Sala Palatului ROMANIA
Wed 16th SOFIA / National Palace of Culture (NDK) BULGARIA

The artistic duo recently released “One Voice”, written by Ruth Moody, co-founder of the Wailin’ Jennys. Said Brian May on

“This track is Art for Art’s sake. To me, it’s something I’m already proud of, with a magnificent vocal performance by Kerry Ellis, but also it has a crystal clear human message – You have a voice … your voice can make a difference.”

The Brian May & Kerry Ellis project was born after the meeting of the two artists during the auditions for the debut of “We Will Rock You - the Musical” in London, where Kerry played the original role as Meat. Brian May produced her studio album “Anthems” in 2010, followed by the “Anthems Tour” in 2011. This was followed by the “Born Free Tour”, which was a series of intimate, acoustic shows performed by candlelight, with the aim of raising awareness of their work for the Born Free Foundation. Ellis and May released a live album from the first leg of the “Born Free Tour” in 2013, entitled “Acoustic by Candlelight”.

Brian May, who has just finished a tour with Queen + Adam Lambert in South America, says:

“I am delighted to be returning to Eastern Europe, where I have performed so many times since 1986. This will be a sort of 30th anniversary for me.”

The concert will include classic hits from legendary rock artists, including Queen and the Beatles. Tickets will go on sale on THURSDAY 8 OCTOBER at 10am CET (9 UK, 11 EET).  

Brian and Kerry One Voice Tour - Bratislava

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**Tue 06 Oct 15**
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"La Red Special di Brian May' will be officially on sale from 23 October, but you can pre-order sales starting today - and there's a chance to win an autographed copy!!

Italian Red Special Book and autograph

The Wait is Over...

The Italian edition of the Red Special book is finally available for sale.

Pre-order your copy now on to get a special discount and a unique chance to win the very first copy signed by Dr May.

"La Red Special di Brian May"
by Brian May and co-author Simon Bradley
Publisher: Tsunami Edizioni
Hardcover: 144 pages - 21x28 - full colour
Italian translation: Raffaella Rolla
See also: @tsunamiedizioni and/or @goldenraff


Of those who order the book on web site by 9.00 am on 23 October 23, 2015, one lucky winner will receive an autographed second copy!!

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**Tue 06 Oct 15**
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Further to previous report in BRIAN NEWS here, 17 August, the 'Victorian Gems" Nest Set of stereo cards can be ordered from today. ORDER LINK

The set comes with an OWL viewer; Booklet: Victorian Gems : a guide to the contents of this ‘OWL’s Nest’ stereoscopic compendium, and 3 new sets of cards (Scenes in Our Village 1-12; Diableries 1-12 and The Poor Man’s Picture Gallery) in smart pesentation case with outer loose sleeve.

Check out Brian's detailed description and video on the new "Victorian Gems" product - SEE SOAPBOX

Brian May shows Victorian Gems

For more info about Victorian Gems and other exciting LSC news please visit

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**Tue 06 Oct 15**
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Today is "National Badger Day'.

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**Sun 04 Oct 15**
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3 October 2015

Animal rights campaigner Brian May has attacked former Defra Secretary Owen Paterson for claiming an "extraordinary reduction in bovine TB disease levels in the Somerset and Gloucestershire pilot areas prove badger culling works".

Queen guitarist said: "Calling an ex-minister a liar is, of course, a very serious accusation, but, in the light of new expert analysis of the statistics on the Government's badger cull, it is an inescapable conclusion. Much more serious is the fact that Owen Paterson is apparently deliberately misrepresenting the facts to the farming community, giving them false hope that killing badgers will solve their bTB problem. We, the public, of course, continue to foot the bill for this cruel, misguided, and ultimately doomed policy."

The annual six-week culls in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire are now in the third year of a four-year pilot programme. This year culls are also began to take place in Dorset. They are all due to finish for the year in the middle of this month.

Defra will not comment on the effect on bovine TB levels until the four-year pilot finished. Scientists advising ministers have told them no useful conclusions can be drawn until ten. But Defra does publish regular statistics on TB breakdowns in cattle herds by county. The most recent figures, for June 2015, show 264 herds are down with TB in Somerset and 189 in Gloucestershire – a figure that has barely changed since culling began. However the figures are for the whole county while the culls are taking place in relatively narrow geographic areas.

Within the zones the NFU reports that the number of herds down with TB has been falling since culling began, leading a majority of livestock farmers to conclude that removing badgers cuts the risk of disease on the farm. A majority in other parts of the South West want the cull rolled out more widely.

Last February, at the NFU conference, NFU president Meurig Raymond told delegates anecdotal evidence showed the cull was working. In the Somerset cull zone he said the incidence of bovine TB in cattle had come down from 34 per cent to 11 per cent in two years. In Gloucestershire he said an NFU member and livestock farmer had reported his herd going clear for the first time in 11 years.

"He is very clear that the only thing that's changed on his farm is that we are now doing something to control the disease in wildlife," Mr Raymond said.

Mr [sic Dr] May said the claims of the NFU and Mr Paterson are in direct opposition to the science and research of the ten-year RBCT Trial "widely regarded around the world as the leading scientific study in relation to culling badgers."

The criteria of the current culls is based on the RBCT trials that require a minimum of 70 per cent of badger population are killed within six weeks to achieve any reduction in the disease. The RBCT trials demonstrated that a failure to achieve the targets would result in perturbation, an effect where the disease is spread by transient animals out of the cull zone.

Professor Lord Krebs, who oversaw the RBCT as Chief Scientific adviser to the government, said: "It's simply not true that the pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have resulted in a decline in TB. The NFU should be more honest with the public and its members."

Anne Brummer, CEO of the Save Me Trust, said Mr Paterson is being deliberately misleading with his comments: "He and the NFU know that the same figures show an increase in bTB around the cull zones. They are making this problem worse for farmers, cattle and wildlife".

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**Sat 03 Oct 15**
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3 October 2015 by Cahal Milmo

Exclusive: The 68-year-old rocker has become a founding supporter of a campaign to restrict or ban the building of so-called “mega-basements” by monied homeowners


An example of a ‘mega-basement', this west London mews house featured in Grand Designs on Channel 4 TV Sarah Lee
From badger setts to his studies of the universe, Brian May has long had a fervent interest in black holes of one shape or another. Now the Queen guitarist has added another type of void to his list of passions – those appearing under expensive homes across London and beyond.

The 68-year-old rocker has become a founding supporter of a campaign to restrict or ban the building of so-called “mega-basements” by monied homeowners – robustly described by May as “basement-building bastards” – seeking to expand their houses by digging below ground to add amenities from laundry rooms to swimming pools.

Demand for extra space in the cramped capital and other British cities has resulted in a boom in the creation of “iceberg homes” in select neighbourhoods, with basements often larger than the original property itself.

But along with it has come an epidemic of complaints from those living next to the building sites about noise and disruption, and growing concerns about the safety of the often vast excavations. A company director was jailed in December for manslaughter after a labourer died when a basement project in west London collapsed.

Last year May complained that the corner of the plush borough Kensington and Chelsea where he has an £11m-home had been turned into a “hellhole” during extensive renovations to neighbours’ homes, including the addition of a two-storey basement to house a gym and a garage for five cars.

Now the musician, who is a prominent campaigner on animal rights and a lead voice against the culling of badgers, has added his voice to a wider campaign calling for basement building to be heavily restricted and in some cases banned outright, while comparing expansionist homeowners to delinquent “hoodies”.

May told The Independent on Sunday that his anger at work in his own neighbourhood has been deepened by concern that “anti-social” basement projects are spreading across Britain.

Brian May

Queen guitarist Brian May has co-founded a campaign to ban homeowners from digging ‘mega-basements
He said: “I make no apology for describing these people as basement-building b*******. The problem has become even more serious as builders tout for business and many new buyers embark on three-year projects purely to make money. These selfish people are now a menace to society.”

He added: “Even if what these people are doing is technically lawful, they are destroying decent residential areas. This is a behaviour so anti-social that action clearly now needs to be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice. If hooded young people were causing such destruction of people’s quality of life, they would be behind bars by now.”

May is backing the #BantheBasement campaign, launched by a businessman who believes that the epidemic of digging is ruining the urban landscape and poses too high a risk to construction workers.

Will Davies, founder of property maintenance company Aspect, said he was so worried about poor construction standards in the basement industry that he refuses to let his employees work on sites where they are being built.

He said: “At the very least we need to see consistent rules and standards which severely limit these basements and make them safe for those who create them. The landscape of our cities is being changed radically and we are getting little assurance from local authorities that they are even safe.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed earlier this year that about half of domestic basement projects across three London boroughs had failed unannounced safety checks. Of 127 sites across west and central London, 62 were the subject of enforcement action, including two where conditions were so dangerous that inspectors ordered their immediate closure.

The HSE said the figures reflected the number of companies rushing in to meet demand for basement works. James Hickman, an HSE inspector, said: “Those new to basement construction work are often unaware of the risks associated with the technically challenging nature of the work or of the standards required to ensure the safety of the workforce.”

Rows between homeowners conducting subterranean renovations and disconsolate neighbours are mushrooming. A millionaire owner involved in a bitter dispute over plans to demolish her three-storey townhouse in Kensington – replacing it with a much larger five-floor property including a double-level basement – painted the exterior with red and white stripes. Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, 71, who last month lost a High Court battle to try to have the project approved, denied that the eye-catching colour scheme was done to irk neighbours who had opposed her plans.

The basement boom, whose adherents have reportedly included Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, has already prompted several London boroughs to look at dramatically tightening the size of basements.

Kensington and Chelsea, Islington and Westminster have all either imposed or are examining new planning rules, including restricting basements to a single level and requiring that they cover no more than 50 per cent of the surface area of a garden.

Those in the basement trade argue that homeowners have a right to improve their properties and the authorities need to concentrate on ensuring companies are careful about reducing the impact of basement work rather than drawing up fresh planning rules.

Simon Haslam, owner of specialist company Basement Force, said: “The imposition of arbitrary, restrictive policies is not the right way to go about tackling any problems.”

For May, however, action by local authorities does not go far enough. “This is too little too late,” he said. “What we need is for a ban on all work which will compromise the peace and quiet of neighbours for long periods. We need a recognition that councils are there to protect the wellbeing of their residents – and this means stiff penalties for those who cause serious disturbance.”

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