In Memoriam 2023

So that’s 2023 over and done with. Now I can declare that Nickie is our winner with 428 points!!! Congratulations, the trophy will be with you as soon as the Flying Monkeys get their act together. Well done everyone and good luck for 2024.

The past year saw a number of unexpected deaths of much-loved celebrities, along with the  loss of veterans from the entertainment industry.

Here are some of those who were mourned during the past 12 months.


Lisa Marie Presley: was an American singer and songwriter. She was the only child of singer and actor Elvis Presley and actress Priscilla Presley, as well as the sole heir to her father’s estate. Presley suffered a cardiac arrest at her home aged 54. 

Gina Lollobrigida: was an Italian actress, model, photojournalist, artist and politician. She was one of the highest-profile European actresses of the 1950s and 1960s, a period in which she was an international sex symbol. Lollobrigida died at a clinic in Rome at the age of 95.

David Crosby,: was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He first found fame as a member of the Byrds, with whom he helped pioneer the genres of folk rock and psychedelia in the mid-1960’s, and later as part of the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, who helped popularise the California sound of the 1970’s. Crosby died in his sleep from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 81. 


Annie Wersching: was an American actress. She was known for her television roles as Renee Walker in 24, the Borg Queen in the second season of Star Trek: Picard, and Rosalind Dyer in The Rookie, as well as the voice and performance-capture for Tess in the video game The Last of Us. Wersching was diagnosed with cancer in mid-2020, though she kept her diagnosis private and continued to act she sadly died at the young age of 41. 

Lisa Loring: was an American actress. She was best known for her work as a child actress from age six playing Wednesday Addams on the 1964–1966 sitcom The Addams Family. Loring had a stroke, possibly caused by smoking and hypertension, and died at a medical centre at the age of 64. 

Paco Rabanne: was a Spanish fashion designer. He rose to prominence as an enfant terrible of the fashion world in the 1960’s with his use of unconventional materials such as metal and plastic in his clothing, and for his incorporation of futuristic elements in his designs, gaining notoriety for his space-age style. Rabanne died at home in France aged 88. 

Burt Bacharach: was an American composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist who is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential figures of 20th-century popular music. Starting in the 1950’s, he composed hundreds of pop songs, many in collaboration with lyricist Hal David. Bacharach died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 94. 

Raquel Welch: was an American actress. Welch first garnered attention for her roles in  such films as Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C. Welch developed a unique film persona that made her an icon of the 1960’s and 1970’s helping her break the mould of the traditional sex symbol. Welch died from cardiac arrest at her home in Los Angeles. She was 82. 

Dickie Davies: was a British television sports presenter who anchored World of Sport from 1968 until 1985. One of the very greatest presenters and a Saturday afternoon staple for all sports lovers, Davies died at the age of 94.

John Motson: was an English football commentator. Beginning as a television commentator with the BBC in 1971, he commentated on over 2000 games on television and radio. From the late 1970’s to 2008, Motson was the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC. Motson often wore a sheepskin coat (his ‘Motty’ coat) during winter months making him instantly recognisable to his audience. He died at the age of 77. 


Betty Boothroyd, Baroness Boothroyd: was a British politician who served as a member of Parliament for West Bromwich and West Bromwich West from 1973 to 2000. A member of the Labour Party, she served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1992 to 2000. She was the first woman to serve as Speaker. Boothroyd died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital at the age of 93.

Tom Sizemore: was an American actor. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sizemore started his career with supporting appearances in Born on the Fourth of July, Lock Up, and Blue Steel. Sizemore died from heart failure caused by a brain aneurysm at age 61. 

Chaim Topol: mononymously known as Topol, was an Israeli actor, singer, and illustrator. He is best known for his portrayal of Tevye, the lead role in the stage musical Fiddler on the Roof and the 1971 film adaptation, performing this role more than 3,500 times from 1967 through 2009. Topol succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 87. 

Mystic Meg: Margaret Anne Lake, best known by her stage name Mystic Meg, was an English astrologer who had a regular astrology column in The Sun and the News of the World. Meg lived in Notting Hill with her seven cats. She died from influenza at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, aged 80.

Jacqueline Gold: was a British businesswoman who was the executive chair of Gold Group International, Ann Summers, and Knickerbox. Gold was estimated to be the 16th richest woman in Great Britain, worth £470 million in 2019 according to The Sunday Times Rich List. Gold died  aged 62, after seven years of treatment for breast cancer.

Lance Reddick: was an American actor and musician. He played Cedric Daniels in The Wire, Phillip Broyles in Fringe, and Chief Irvin Irving in Bosch. In film, he starred as Charon in the John Wick franchise and as General Caulfield in White House Down. Reddick died from heart disease, aged 60. 


Max Hardcore: Paul F. Little was an American pornographic actor, producer, and director better known by his stage name Max Hardcore. He rose to prominence in 1992 with the film series The Anal Adventures of Max Hardcore. His abusive and misogynistic films and work methods had reportedly made him relatively unpopular in the porn industry. He died at the age of 66 due to complications of thyroid cancer.  

Paul O’Grady: was an English comedian, broadcaster, drag queen, actor, and writer. He achieved notability in the London gay scene during the 1980’s with his drag persona Lily Savage, through which he gained wider popularity in the 1990’s. He subsequently dropped the character and in the 2000s became the presenter of various television and radio shows, including The Paul O’Grady Show. O’Grady died “unexpectedly but peacefully” at his home in Kent at age 67, from sudden cardiac arrhythmia. 

Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby: was a British politician and journalist. A member of the Conservative Party, he served as Member of Parliament for Blaby from 1974 to 1992, and served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet from 1981 to 1989. Lawson was the father of six children, including Nigella Lawson, the food writer & celebrity cook. Lawson died at his home in Eastbourne from bronchopneumonia at the age of 91. 

Paul Cattermole: was an English singer and actor. He was best known for being a member of the pop group S Club 7 from 1998 until his departure in 2002. Cattermole returned to the band in 2014 for their reunion tour and was originally due to return in 2023 for a planned second reunion tour before his death at the age of 46. The cause of death was later revealed to be natural causes, specifically heart failure. 

Dame Mary Quant: was a British fashion designer and fashion icon. She became an instrumental figure in the 1960’s London-based Mod and youth fashion movements, and played a prominent role in London’s Swinging Sixties culture. She was one of the designers who took credit for the miniskirt and hotpants. Quant died at home in Surrey aged 93.

Barry Humphries: was an Australian comedian, actor, author and satirist. He was best known for writing and playing his stage and television characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson. Humphries’ characters brought him international renown. Humphries died following complications from hip surgery. He was 89 years old.

Len Goodman: was an English professional ballroom dancer, dance teacher, and dance competition adjudicator. He appeared as head judge on the UK television programme Strictly Come Dancing from its beginning in 2004 until 2016. Goodman died from bone cancer in a hospice in Royal Tunbridge Wells, three days before his 79th birthday. 

Harry Belafonte: was an American singer, actor, and civil rights activist, who popularised calypso music with international audiences in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Belafonte’s career breakthrough album Calypso was the first million-selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte was best known for his recordings of “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”, “Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)“, and “Mary’s Boy Child”.  Belafonte died from congestive heart failure at his home at the age of 96.  

Jerry Springer: was an American broadcaster, journalist, actor, producer, lawyer, and politician. Springer was best known for hosting the sometimes controversial tabloid talk show Jerry Springer from 1991 to 2018. Springer died at his home at the age of 79. He’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months prior to his death. 


Martin Amis: as an English novelist, essayist, memoirist, and screenwriter. He is best known for his novels Money and London Fields. A lifelong smoker, Amis died from oesophageal cancer at his home in Florida at the age of 73. 

Rolf Harris: was an Australian musician, television personality, painter, and actor. He often used unusual instruments like the didgeridoo and the Stylophone in his performances, and is credited with the invention of the wobble board. He was convicted in England in 2014 of the sexual assault of four underage girls, which effectively ended his career. Harris was suffering with neck cancer, unable to talk, and was being fed via a tube when he died at the age of 93. 

Ray Stevenson: was a British actor. He portrayed Titus Pullo in the television series Rome. Blackbeard in the third and fourth seasons of Black Sails, and most recently portraying Baylan Skoll in Ahsoka. Stevenson died aged 58. No cause of death has been revealed.

Tina Turner: was a singer, songwriter and actress. Known as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, she rose to prominence as the lead singer of the husband-wife duo Ike & Tina Turner before launching a successful career as a solo performer. She was recognised for her “swagger, sensuality, powerful gravelly vocals and unstoppable energy. Turner died at her home in  Switzerland, aged 83, following years of illness.


Ted Kaczynski: also known as the Unabomber, was an American mathematician and domestic terrorist. He was a mathematics prodigy, but abandoned his academic career in 1969 to pursue a primitive lifestyle. Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski murdered three individuals and injured 23 others in a nationwide mail bombing campaign against people he believed to be advancing modern technology and the destruction of the natural environment. Kaczynski was found unresponsive in his jail cell. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at the age of 81. Prison officials believe his death to be a suicide. He was also in the late stages of cancer. 

Silvio Berlusconi: was an Italian media tycoon and politician who served as the prime minister of Italy in four governments from 1994 onwards. With a net worth of $6.8 billion, Berlusconi was the third-wealthiest person in Italy at the time of his death aged 86. 

Cormac McCarthy: was an American writer who authored twelve novels, two plays, five screenplays, and three short stories, spanning the Western and post-apocalyptic genres. He was known for his graphic depictions of violence and his unique writing style, recognisable by a sparse use of punctuation and attribution. McCarthy died at his home in Santa Fe at the age of 89

Glenda Jackson: was an English actress and politician. She was one of the few performers to achieve the American Triple Crown of Acting, having won two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards and a Tony Award. Best known for her role in Women in Love Jackson died at her Blackheath home at the age of 87 following a brief illness.


Julian Sands: was an English actor. His break-out role was as George Emerson in A Room with a View, and he also appeared in The Killing Fields, and Warlock. In January, Sands went missing while hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles. His remains were discovered in  July. 

Tony Bennett: was an American jazz and traditional pop singer. He received many accolades, including 20 Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and two Primetime Emmy Awards. Bennett died aged 96 at his home in New York City following a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

George Alagiah: was a British newsreader, journalist and television presenter. From 2007 until 2022, he was the presenter of the BBC News at Six. From 2014, Alagiah was being treated for colorectal cancer, which eventually spread to his lungs, liver and lymph nodes. Alagiah died at the age of 67.

Sinéad O’Connor: was an Irish singer, songwriter, and activist. Her debut studio album, The Lion and the Cobra, was released in 1987 and achieved international chart success. However her cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” is what she was most known for. O’Connor was found unresponsive at her flat in South London, and confirmed dead at the age of 56. 


Paul Reubens: was an American actor and comedian, widely known for creating and portraying the character Pee-wee Herman. Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theatre in 1991. The arrest set off a chain reaction of national media attention which postponed Reubens’s involvement in major projects until 1999. Reubens died aged 70 from cancer which he had been suffering from for six years. 

Mark Margolis: was an American actor, best known for his portrayal of the character Hector Salamanca in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. His performance in Breaking Bad was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2012. Margolis died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City following a short illness at age 83. 

William Friedkin: was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter who was closely identified with the “New Hollywood” movement of the 1970’s. He is best known for his crime thriller film The French Connection and the horror film The Exorcist. Friedkin died from heart failure and pneumonia at his home in the Bel Air just 22 days before his 88th birthday. 

DJ Casper: William Perry Jr., better known as DJ Casper, was an American disc jockey. Born and raised in Chicago, he was known as “Casper” due to frequently being clad in all white attire on stage. Perry’s first and only hit record, “Cha Cha Slide” hit No1 in the UK charts. He died of kidney and liver cancer at the age of 58. 

Sir Michael Parkinson: was an English television presenter, broadcaster, journalist and author. He presented his television talk show Parkinson from 1971 to 1982 and from 1998 to 2007. Parkinson died at home following a brief illness, aged 88. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin: was a Russian mercenary leader and oligarch. He led the Wagner Group private military company and was a close confidant of Russian president Vladimir Putin until launching a rebellion in June 2023. Prigozhin died in an airplane crash which was orchestrated by Putin’s right-hand man Nikolai Patrushev.


Mohamed Al-Fayed: was an Egyptian businessman whose residence and chief business interests were in the United Kingdom from the mid-1960s. His business interests included ownership of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, and Harrods department store and Fulham Football Club. Al-Fayed died of old age in London at the age of 94, almost exactly 26 years after his son Dodi. 

Mike Yarwood: was an English impressionist, comedian and actor. He was one of Britain’s top-rated entertainers, regularly appearing on television from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Yarwood died in hospital of an undisclosed illness at the age of 82. 

Jean Boht: was an English actress, most famous for the role of Nellie Boswell in Carla Lane’s sitcom Bread, remaining one of several actors to remain with the show for its entire seven series tenure from 1986 to 1991. Boht died from complications of dementia aged 91.

Roger Whittaker: was a British singer-songwriter and musician. His music is an eclectic mix of folk music and popular songs, the latter variously in a crooning or in a Schlager style. He is best known for his baritone singing voice and trademark whistling ability as well as his guitar skills. He died in a hospital near Toulouse aged 87.


David McCallum: was a Scottish actor and musician. He gained wide recognition in the 1960’s for playing secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. His other notable television roles include Simon Carter in Colditz and Steel in Sapphire & Steel. McCallum died at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital of natural causes, six days after his 90th birthday. 

Sir Michael Gambon: was an Irish-English actor. Gambon started his acting career with Laurence Olivier as one of the original members of the Royal National Theatre. He received a BAFTA Award for The Singing Detective but gained wider recognition through his role of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film series. Gambon died in Witham aged 82 following a bout of pneumonia. 

Piper Laurie: was an American actress. She is known for her roles in the films The Hustler, Carrie, and Children of a Lesser God, and both television miniseries’ The Thorn Birds and Twin Peaks. Having been unwell for some time, Laurie died in Los Angeles at age 91. 

Suzanne Somers: was an American actress, singer, author, and businesswoman in the health and wellness industry. She played the television roles of Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company. Somers died at her home in Palm Springs one day before her 77th birthday. 

Sir Bobby Charlton: was an English professional footballer who played as a midfielder or centre-forward. Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, he was a member of the England team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup. Charlton died at Macclesfield District General Hospital at the age of 86, from complications of a fall he sustained at the nursing home where he resided. 

Richard Roundtree: was an American actor. He was best known for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the 1971 blaxploitation film Shaft and four of its sequels. Roundtree died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 81.

Matthew Perry: was an American and Canadian actor. He gained fame for starring as Chandler Bing on the NBC television sitcom Friends. Perry was found unresponsive in a hot tub at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 54. Perry’s death was revealed to have occurred due to “acute effects of ketamine”. 


Joss Ackland: was an English actor who appeared in more than 130 film, radio and television roles, including the television serial Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the film Lethal Weapon 2. Ackland died at home in Clovelly, at the age of 95.

Rosalynn Carter: was an American writer, activist and humanitarian who served as the first lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981, as the wife of President Jimmy Carter. Throughout her decades of public service, she was a leading advocate for women’s rights and mental health. She died in her home in Plains, Georgia, of natural causes, at the age of 96. 

Terry Venables: often referred to as El Tel, was an English football player and manager who played for clubs including Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers and won two caps for England. Venables died aged 80 following a long illness.


Henry Kissinger, was an American diplomat, political scientist, geopolitical consultant, and politician who served as the United States secretary of state and national security advisor in the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford between 1969 and 1977. Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut, at the age of 100. 

Shane MacGowan: was a British-born Irish singer-songwriter and musician best known as the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of Celtic punk band the Pogues. He co-wrote the Christmas hit single “Fairytale of New York”, which the Pogues recorded as a duet between MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl; the song remains a perennial Christmas favourite in the UK. MacGowan died from pneumonia at his home in Dublin with his wife by his side; he was 65. 

Glenys Kinnock: was a British politician and teacher who served as Minister of State for Europe from June to October 2009 and Minister of State for Africa and the United Nations from 2009 to 2010. She was the wife of Neil Kinnock, who was leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992. She died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at her home in London aged 79. 

Norman Lear: as an American screenwriter and producer who produced, wrote, created, or developed over 100 shows. Lear created and produced numerous popular 1970’s sitcoms, including All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, and Good Times. Lear died at his home in Los Angeles from cardiac arrest, as a complication of heart failure. He was 101. 

Benjamin Zephaniah: was a British writer, dub poet, actor, musician and professor of poetry and creative writing. In his work, Zephaniah drew on his lived experiences of incarceration, racism and his Jamaican heritage. Zephaniah died at the age of 65, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks previously

Ryan O’Neal: was an American actor. Initially he trained as an amateur boxer before beginning a career in acting in 1960. In 1964, he landed the role of Rodney Harrington on the ABC nighttime soap opera Peyton Place. It was an instant hit and boosted O’Neal’s career.  O’Neal died at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica at the age of 82. His cause of death was congestive heart failure. 

Andre Braugher: was an American actor known for his roles as Detective Frank Pembleton in the police drama series Homicide: Life on the Street and Captain Raymond Holt in the police comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Braugher died from lung cancer, having been diagnosed with it a few months prior. He was 61.

Dead Pool 31st December 2023

With only a few hours left of the year, it looks like Nickie might have it in the bag. This years winner will be declared tomorrow, along with the yearly roundup covering some of the most notable deaths of 2023. Remember to get your list in before midnight! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Shannen Doherty says she is committed to battling stage four breast cancer, which has now spread to her bones. Speaking to the Flying Monkeys, the Beverly Hills 90210 actress says she is determined to keep going with treatment. “I’m not done with living. I’m not done with loving. I’m not done with creating,” the 52-year-old said. Doherty has been sharing her health battles for several years, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. In 2016 she underwent a mastectomy, but surgery showed the cancer cells could have spread beyond the lymph nodes. She then underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, announcing in 2017 that she was in remission. But in February 2020, Doherty revealed her breast cancer had returned at stage 4 after several years of remission. Earlier this year she posted a video of herself on Instagram receiving chemotherapy, revealing that it had spread from her chest to her brain and is now terminal. With new cancer treatments and clinical trials being offered, she hopes to get better and says “her greatest memory is yet to come”. “People just assume that it means you can’t walk, you can’t eat, you can’t work. They put you out to pasture at a very early age – ‘you’re done, you’re retired’, and we’re not,” she said in the interview. “We’re vibrant, and we have such a different outlook on life. We are people who want to work and embrace life and keep moving forward.” She is about to release her new podcast Let’s Be Clear with Shannen Doherty, which will look back on her life so far and discuss her cancer story.  

James Whale has celebrated being made an MBE in the New Year Honours list for his services to broadcasting and to charity, as he described his stage four kidney cancer being “a bit bad at the moment”. The broadcaster and talk show host has been a popular voice on radio and TV for five decades, and still hosts a regular Saturday slot on TalkTV and TalkRadio. “Nobody could have been more surprised than me, thank you to all the guys who made it possible over the years, everybody at TalkRadio and TV and everywhere,” Whale said on Twitter. “I’ve worked since the 70’s and the guys that run the charity Kidney Cancer UK, thank you, all this is for us.” Whale began his career with Metro Radio in 1974 where he pioneered the late-night radio phone-in. The 72-year-old rose to fame in the 1980’s with his frank style, dry wit and no-nonsense approach on late-night programme The James Whale Radio Show, gaining a legion of loyal listeners. Whale then spent 13 years at TalkSport before hosting the drive-time show on LBC and the breakfast show on BBC Essex. Whale was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and had to have one of his kidneys removed. In 2018, his wife Melinda died after being diagnosed with lung cancer and in August 2020, Whale revealed cancer had returned in his kidney, spine, brain and lungs. The radio DJ’s past experience with cancer led him to form the James Whale Kidney Fund in 2006, which merged with Kidney Cancer UK in 2015. Whale now hosts a weekly podcast with his second wife Nadine Talbot-Brown talking about their journey together with his stage four kidney cancer. Appearing on TalkTV for A Lifetime Of Night-Time: The James Whale Story, which will air on Saturday at 10pm, Whale said his cancer “is a bit bad at the moment” but spoke of his desire to continue hosting his Saturday night show. His wife described the show as his “reason for being” at the moment. Whale said: “If I have a few more months that would be great, if I have until next Christmas or this coming Christmas would be nice wouldn’t it, but if I die tomorrow I’ve had an amazing time and I married an amazing lady. And I’ve had a lifetime of not having to have a job, I don’t work.”  

Slade icon Noddy Holder provided a positive update on his health amid his cancer battle. When he was first diagnosed five years ago, the 77-year-old musician was told he only had six months to live. He was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and doctors told him his only option was to take part in a clinical trial for a new form of chemotherapy, which had never been tried on someone over the age of 60. He kept his diagnosis a secret until a few months ago and fans were shocked to find out the news. And now, he opened up about how he reacted to the new drugs he’s been on as part of a trial he signed up for. Speaking to Radio 2, he said: “It was touch and go. I lost all my hair. My weight was down to about eight stone. So every cloud. I’ve just had a scan last week and everything’s on an even keel at the moment, so I hope it carries on that way. I’m fit, fit, fit… but I’m fit for nothing.” His wife, Suzan, previously said that his initial prognosis was far from good but he agreed, along with staff from The Christie Hospital in Manchester to take part in an experimental treatment. But this had no guarantees of working. Thankfully, the star reacted positively to the treatment. Noddy said: “I went to the Christie hospital in Manchester, and I said ‘Is it six months? Is that the end of the line?’” The doctor he was speaking to told him the only other option was the new intense chemotherapy. Noddy said they told him his “positive outlook” could help him if he was to try it. After a brief moment of indecision – one that frightened Suzan “to death” – he agreed to go ahead with the trial. Noddy explained he didn’t want to be ill for his last six months, but after the doctors told him more about it, he wanted to “give it a go”. 

On This Day

  • 1759 – Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000-year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness. 
  • 1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time. 
  • 1999 – The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor. 
  • 2019 – The World Health Organization is informed of cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause, detected in Wuhan. This later turned out to be COVID-19.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Anthony Hopkins (86), Val Kilmer (64), Ben Kingsley (80), Eliza Dushku (43), Russ Tamblyn (89), Caity Lotz (37), Tracey Ullman (64), Jude Law (51), Jon Voight (85), Ted Danson (76), Danny McBride (47), Michael Cudlitz (59), Lilly Wachowski (56), Marianne Faithfull (77), Denzel Washington (69), Maggie Smith (89), Noomi Rapace (44), Sienna Miller (42), Joe Manganiello (47), John Legend (45), Timothée Chalamet (28), Olivia Cooke (30), Gérard Depardieu (75), John Amos (84), Jared Leto (52), Kit Harington (37), Temuera Morrison (63), Sissy Spacek (74), Helena Christensen (55), and Annie Lennox (69). 

St Pepper 2023

Another year flies by and some well loved celebrities sadly passed away. Below is this years St Pepper from talented artist Clive Barker, go buy him a coffee here. You can click on the image for a larger version. If you can’t figure out who they all are, the key is behind this link.

Dead Pool 24th December 2023

With just one week to go, I hope you’re all busy working on your list for 2024! Remember to  tell your friends, the more that join the more fun it will be! The 2023 trophy is waiting to be won, although Nickie is currently in the lead, as we know, anything can happen in the next seven days! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

The broadcaster Dame Esther Rantzen says she has joined the Dignitas assisted dying clinic in Switzerland. The 83-year-old told the Flying Monkeys she is currently undergoing a “miracle” treatment for stage four lung cancer. If it does not work, “I might buzz off to Zurich”, where assisted dying is legal. But she said she was looking forward to this “precious” Christmas, which she hadn’t thought she would live to see. Assisted suicide is banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. While there is no specific offence of assisted suicide in Scotland, euthanasia is illegal and can be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter. Speaking about her decision to join Dignitas, Dame Esther said it was driven in part by her wish that her family’s “last memories of me” are not “painful because if you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times”. The broadcaster said if she did decide to have an assisted death at Dignitas that would put “my family and friends in a difficult position because they would want to go with me, and that means that the police might prosecute them”. Dame Esther, who is best known for presenting the BBC Show That’s Life! for over twenty years said she believed people should be given the choice about “how you want to go and when you want to go”. “I get all the arguments about… not wanting to be a burden and pressure being applied and all that. But… you can come to the wrong conclusion. If you just base everything on the worst case scenario, you’ve got to have a look at the advantages as well.”  Dame Esther’s daughter, Rebecca Wilcox, told the Flying Monkeys that there was a “legal murkiness surrounding assisting dying”. “I support mum’s decision,” she said, but added: “I’m not legally allowed to say I’d go with her, that I would hold her hand – and that is absolutely ridiculous. I should be able to sit with my mother in her last moments. I can’t go to prison, I can’t go through a court case at the worst point of my life, when I’ve lost my person and I’m suddenly being prosecuted with her death. It’s unfathomable. I can’t believe this is the situation we’re in.” Almost a year on from her diagnosis, Dame Esther said she had not expected to live with cancer for so long. “I thought I’d fall off my perch within a couple of months, if not weeks. I certainly didn’t think I’d make my birthday in June, which I did, and I definitely didn’t think I’d make this Christmas, which I am. It appears, although anything can happen,” she said.  

Madonna has opened up about the details of her latest health scare, revealing that she was put “in an induced coma for 48 hours”. In June, the “Like a Virgin” singer, 65, was due to embark on her Celebration Tour in Canada when she developed a “serious bacterial infection”, prompting her to pause all commitments. She was admitted to hospital, where she stayed several days in the intensive care unit. She later resumed her global tour in October in Europe. During her most recent stop in Brooklyn, Madonna took a moment to thank “some very important people” who were by her side in the hospital. “I passed out on my bathroom floor; I woke up in the ICU – thank you, Siobahn, she saved my life,” the Queen of Pop can be heard telling the crowd in a video posted on Twitter. She explained that she was put into “an induced coma for 48 hours”, adding that the only voice she heard was that of her Kabbalah teacher. “I heard him say, ‘Squeeze my hand’, that’s it,” Madonna said before joking that she “had to almost die to get all my kids in one room”. In previous updates, the “Material Girl” artist recalled her first hospital thoughts being about her children and not wanting to “disappoint anyone who bought tickets for my tour”. “I also didn’t want to let down the people who worked tirelessly with me over the last few months to create my show. I hate to disappoint anyone,” she said on Instagram in July.  

One time Dead Pool favourite, Charlie Sheen has been assaulted by a woman at his Malibu home, police in Los Angeles have said. The attack occurred on Wednesday afternoon. Police have arrested Electra Schrock, 47, for assault with a deadly weapon and residential burglary. Paramedics were reportedly called to Mr Sheen’s home in the aftermath, but he was not taken to hospital. Police did not share a possible motive. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department confirmed the mid-day attack on the former Two and a Half Men star in a statement to the Flying Monkeys. Ms Schrock, who is reportedly a neighbour of Mr Sheen, was also arrested for using force likely to create great bodily injury. Police did not say what weapon was used in the alleged attack. The Flying Monkeys report that Ms Schrock attempted to strangle Mr Sheen and ripped his shirt after he opened his front door. Ms Schrock had earlier this year pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanour elder abuse. Sheen, 58, starred for eight seasons on CBS hit sitcom Two and a Half Men, before a spectacular falling out with the show’s creator. He went on to court tabloid headlines with a series of bizarre interviews. He later said that he regretted his actions during that time and blamed his behaviour on drug and alcohol abuse. In an interview with People magazine earlier this month, Mr Sheen said that “next month I’ll be six years sober. I have a very consistent lifestyle now. It’s all about single dad stuff, and raising my 14-year-old twin boys,” the actor said.

On This Day

  • 1818 – The first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the Nikolauskirche in Oberndorf, Austria.
  • 1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning.
  • 1968 – The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so.


  • 1992 – Peyo, Belgian cartoonist, created The Smurfs (b. 1928).
  • 2008 – Harold Pinter, English playwright, screenwriter, director (b. 1930).
  • 2012 – Charles Durning, American actor (b. 1923).
  • 2012 – Jack Klugman, American actor (b. 1922).
  • 2016 – Rick Parfitt, British musician (b. 1948).
  • 2016 – Liz Smith, English actress (b. 1921).
  • 2016 – Richard Adams, English author (b. 1920).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Finn Wolfhard (21), Harry Shearer (80), Ralph Fiennes (61), Vanessa Paradis (51), Samuel L. Jackson (75), Kiefer Sutherland (57), Jane Fonda (86), Jonah Hill (40), Jenny Agutter (71), Nicole de Boer (53), Jake Gyllenhaal (43), Alyssa Milano (51), Kristy Swanson (54), Jennifer Beals (60), Brad Pitt (60), Steven Spielberg (77), Katie Holmes (45), Christina Aguilera (43), Casper Van Dien (55), Billie Eilish (22), Steve Austin (59), Robson Green (59), Keith Richards (80), and Sia (48). 

Dead Pool 17th December 2023

With just two weeks to go I hope you’re all working on your lists for 2024! Tell all your morbid friends to have a go!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Punk icon Patti Smith is reportedly “in good health” after being rushed to hospital following a “sudden illness”. The 76-year-old – who recently spoke of her long-term bronchial battle –had been due to perform at the Duse Theater in Bologna, Italy, on Tuesday, but the show was cancelled at short notice Smith was taken to the Maggiore hospital in Bologna and put under observation after falling ill. A notice was shared to the Instagram page of the Teatro Duse Bologna venue that had been due to host Smith, announcing her show had been cancelled “due to a sudden illness that struck the artist”. “We are all sorry for the inconvenience caused by this news. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go to the artist,” the statement said. On Wednesday evening, the Local Health Authority of Bologna told the Flying Monkeys that the singer was discharged from the hospital after “a short period of observation in emergency”. Smith spoke about her health in an interview with The Flying Monkeys in 2020, where she revealed that she had struggled during the pandemic because she suffers from a lifelong bronchial condition. “To be in limbo almost 10 months, for a person like me who doesn’t like sitting in the same place, it’s been very challenging. I feel like I’m part-wolf, roaming from room to room,” she said. Known as the punk poet laureate or “Godmother of Punk”, Smith has remained active since she first rose to prominence in the early Seventies, when she released her critically adored debut album, Horses, in 1975. Her best known song, “Because the Night” written with Bruce Springsteen and hit No 13 on the US charts in 1978.  

Matthew Perry’s cause of death has been revealed in an autopsy report released on Friday. The 54-year-old Friend’s actor was found dead seven weeks ago in the jacuzzi of his Los Angeles home, after a live-in assistant found him floating lifeless and face down in the pool. The Los Angeles Medical Examiner’s Office has concluded his death “an accident” and a result of the “acute effects of ketamine”. Contributing factors included “drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine” the report said. For those of us who don’t know, Ketamine is a general anaesthetic and reduces sensations in the body making users feel dream-like, detached, chilled, relaxed, happy but also confused and nauseated. It can be used for both humans and animals. Perry had been having ketamine infusion therapy for depression and anxiety at the time of his death, an experience he had written about in his memoir. His most recent official intake had been a week and half before he was found unresponsive at his home. But the medical examiner concluded that the ketamine found in his stomach couldn’t have been from his last infusion as it lasted only 3-4 hours in the system. The report couldn’t specify the “exact method of intake” and no needle marks were found. The levels of ketamine found are suspected to have caused “lethal effects” including overstimulation of his heart and depression of his breath which led to a “lapse into unconsciousness” and submerging in the pool where he is thought to have drowned. His coronary artery disease contributed to an “exacerbation of ketamine induced myocardial effects on the heart”- meaning it reduced his heart’s ability to pump blood around his body after the ketamine took effect.  

Kate Garraway’s husband Derek Draper is fighting for his life after suffering a heart attack.  Derek, 56, has been plagued with health woes after contracting Covid in 2020 and is now said to be in critical condition after being taken dangerously ill last Monday. Good Morning Britain presenter Kate, 56, is reportedly holding a 24/7 vigil by his bedside and has cancelled all work commitments while his family ‘pray for a miracle’. ‘It was sudden and a shock as he had been doing so well and was in great spirits, looking forward to Christmas at home with the family. This setback has been a huge blow for his family and all the people caring for him. Kate is by his side 24 hours a day and is willing him on to win this latest battle for his life. Derek has fought so many times, and always, against all odds, come out the other side.’ Derek has been in and out of hospital after he fell seriously ill with coronavirus at the very start of the pandemic in March 2020, and was left with lasting damage to his organs. Doctors put him in a medically induced coma and he became the longest-suffering coronavirus patient in the UK after spending 13 months in hospital. However, he has readmitted several times with numerous health issues, including kidney failure, brain inflammation and liver damage.

On This Day

  • 1903 – The Wright brothers make the first controlled powered, heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
  • 1961 – Fire breaks out during a performance by the Gran Circus Norte-Americano in Rio de Janeiro killing more than 500.
  • 1969 – Project Blue Book: The United States Air Force closes its study of UFO’s.
  • 1989 – The Simpsons premieres on television with the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”.
  • 2003 – The Soham murder trial ends at the Old Bailey in London, with Ian Huntley found guilty of two counts of murder. His girlfriend, Maxine Carr, is found guilty of perverting the course of justice.


  • 1833 – Kaspar Hauser, German feral child (b. 1812?).
  • 2008 – Gregoire, Congolese chimpanzee, oldest recorded (65-66 years old) (b. 1942).
  • 2010 – Captain Beefheart, American singer-songwriter (b. 1941).
  • 2011 – Kim Jong-il, North Korean dictator, second Supreme Leader of North Korea (b. 1941).
  • 2016 – Henry Heimlich, American doctor (b. 1920).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Katheryn Winnick (46), Milla Jovovich (48), Bill Pullman (70), Giovanni Ribisi (49), Laurie Holden (54), Ernie Hudson (78), Eugene Levy (77), Bernard Hill (79), Krysten Ritter (41), Miranda Otto (56), Charlie Cox (41), Don Johnson (74), Helen Slater (60), Paul Kaye (58), Garrett Wang (55), Natascha McElhone (54), Miranda Hart (51), Ted Raimi (58), Vicki Michelle (73), Emma Corrin (28), Taylor Swift (34), Steve Buscemi (66), Jamie Foxx (56), Dick Van Dyke (98), Robert Lindsay (74), Jennifer Connelly (53), Bill Nighy (74), Mädchen Amick (53), Mayim Bialik (48), Sarah Douglas (71), and Kenneth Cranham (79).

Dead Pool 10th December 2023

Let’s begin by doling out the points!! With the death of Norman Lear, our Trish scores 49 points! Well done her! I’ve also opened up the submissions page if any of you want to get your list for 2024 in early.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Chris Evert has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time. The tennis legend, 68, revealed that her cancer has returned “in the same pelvic region” in a health update on Friday, two years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and announcing that she was in remission from the disease earlier this year. “Since I was first diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I’ve been very open about my experience. I wanted to give all of you an update. My cancer is back,” Evert said in a statement released through the Flying Monkeys. “While this is a diagnosis I never wanted to hear, I once again feel fortunate that it was caught early,” she continued. “Based on a PET CT scan, I underwent another robotic surgery this past week. Doctors found cancer cells in the same pelvic region. All cells were removed, and I have begun another round of chemotherapy. I will be unable to join my colleagues when we return to Melbourne for the Australian Open next month. But I’ll be ready for the rest of the Grand Slam season!” the sports star said. Evert added, “I encourage everyone to know your family history and advocate for yourself. Early detection saves lives. Be thankful for your health this holiday season.” Evert had previously announced that she was free from cancer in January. The International Tennis Hall-of-Famer urged the importance of genetic testing as she also spoke about her sister Jeanne who died from the same disease in February 2020.   

Mark Sheppard, best known as “Crowley” on Supernatural, revealed on Instagram that he somehow survived six heart attacks. “You’re not going to believe this! Was on my way to an appointment yesterday when I collapsed in my kitchen,” Sheppard began. The 59-year-old actor wrote that he had “six massive heart attacks” and was “brought back from the dead four times,” before learning that he “had a 100% blockage in my LAD” (left anterior descending artery.)” Sheppard called the event “The Widowmaker,” and expressed his thanks to his medics. “If not for my wife, the @losangelesfiredepartment at Mullholland and the incredible staff @providencecalifornia St Joseph’s – I wouldn’t be writing this,” he said. “My chances of survival were virtually nil. I feel great. Humbled once more,” Sheppard added. “Home tomorrow! #spnfamily.” Sheppard’s cast-mate Misha Collins, who portrayed Castiel on the series, shared a message in the comments section of his post. “Mark! You don’t need to do the most and biggest every time! 6 heart attacks? 2 or 3 would have been impressive enough,” Collins wrote. “You’ve impressed us, okay. Now stop with this heal up and get back on the road with us,” he continued. “Love you, pal.” 

Former Celebrity Big Brother star Lauren Harries is home in time for Christmas after being in hospital for seven months. The Cardiff-born television personality had been in hospital since April and at one point was put into an induced coma after undergoing brain surgery. She was admitted to hospital after falling ill with a mystery illness and had to have the emergency surgery, but experienced a number of seizures. The good news that she has now been allowed home as Lauren described how it was good to see her family stop worrying so much. A statement said: “Lauren’s out of hospital. It’s been the most stressful seven months of our families lives. But she’s home in time for Christmas. Note from Lauren: ‘It’s wonderful not seeing the worry on my family’s faces anymore, Merry Christmas thank you to all of my stars for your love’.” Lauren, from Rumney, found fame as a child antiques expert, who appeared on the Antiques Roadshow and Wogan. After a gap from the spotlight she re-emerged to star on Channel 5 series Trust Me – I’m A Beauty Therapist and then, in 2013, starred on Celebrity Big Brother on the same channel. She finished third in the competition, with Geordie Shore’s Charlotte Crosby winning the series. Her fans were quick to welcome the good news. One said: “Brilliant news for you all. Hope you have a relaxing and lovely Christmas.” Another said: “That’s great Lauren, have a brilliant Xmas” and “Good news. Best wishes for Lauren and the family this Christmas holiday season.”  

Britney Spears’ estranged father, Jamie Spears, had his leg amputated last month, a source in the pop star’s hometown told the Flying Monkeys. “He had a knee replacement and got a terrible infection from it,” our insider shares. We hear Jamie underwent multiple unsuccessful surgeries prior to the amputation, which was “a last resort.” His lawyer had no comment. The news comes two months after the Flying Monkeys heard rumours that the 71-year-old was “seriously ill” and had been in and out of hospitals, including a facility for infectious disease patients. Sources said at the time that Jamie had “lost more than 25 pounds” while dealing with his health issues, which stemmed from a knee replacement in the mid-2000s. Britney, 42, was not considering reaching out to her dad to repair their scarred relationship before it was too late. “Britney is on a healing journey, but a reconciliation with Jamie is not in the cards,” one source told us. The “Toxic” singer became estranged from the Spears family patriarch while fighting to end the conservatorship he had placed her under in 2008. After Britney described her father as “abusive” in open court in 2021, a Los Angeles judge suspended Jamie as conservator before terminating the guardianship altogether. 

On This Day

  • 1907 – The worst night of the Brown Dog riots in London, when 1,000 medical students, protesting against the existence of a memorial for animals that have been vivisected, clash with 400 police officers.
  • 1993 – The last shift leaves Wearmouth Colliery in Sunderland. The closure of the 156-year-old pit marks the end of the old County Durham coalfield, which had been in operation since the Middle Ages.
  • 2021 – A widespread, deadly, and violent tornado outbreak slams the Central, Midwestern, and Southern regions of the United States. Eighty-nine people are killed by the tornadoes, with most of the fatalities occurring in Kentucky, where a single tornado kills 57 people, and injures hundreds of others.


  • 1896 – Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist & engineer, invented Dynamite & founded the Nobel Prize (b. 1833).
  • 1928 – Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Scottish architect and painter (b. 1868).
  • 1967 – Otis Redding, American singer-songwriter and producer (b. 1941).
  • 1978 – Ed Wood, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1924).
  • 2005 – Richard Pryor, American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1940).
  • 2006 – Augusto Pinochet, Chilean general and dictator, 30th President of Chile (b. 1915).
  • 2017 – Max Clifford, British publicist (b. 1943).
  • 2020 – Barbara Windsor, English actress (b. 1937).
  • 2021 – Michael Nesmith, American musician (The Monkees), songwriter, actor, producer, and novelist (b. 1942).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Kenneth Branagh (63), Clive Anderson (71), Judi Dench (89), John Malkovich (70), Beau Bridges (82), Michael Dorn (71), Donny Osmond (66), Teri Hatcher (59), Kim Basinger (70), Dominic Monaghan (47), David Harewood (58), Nicki Minaj (41), C. Thomas Howell (57), Nicholas Hoult (34), Jeffrey Wright (58), Ellen Burstyn (91), Jennifer Carpenter (44), Kristofer Hivju (50), Colin Salmon (61), Noel Clarke (48), Catherine Tate (54), Frankie Muniz (38), Marisa Tomei (59), Jeff Bridges (74), Tony Todd (69), Pamela Stephenson (74), Tyra Banks (50), and Jay-Z (54).

Dead Pool 3rd December 2023

What a week for deaths! The first real cold snap of the year and it seemed like they were dropping like flies! 

Let’s award some points! With the passing of Henry Kissinger, 50 points to the following: Dave, Paul C, Shân, and myself. However Nickie had him down as her Cert, so an amazing 150 points go to her tally! 

But let’s not stop there!!! With Shane MacGowan’s death, I can award 85 points to each of the following: Neil, Abi, Martin, Nickie, Debbie, and Lee. 

Which means Nickie has toppled Jamie from the top the leader board, with only a few weeks to go! What excitement!!!! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

The grieving family of Benidorm legend Sticky Vicky have described the performer’s last moments in hospital before she died of heart failure aged 80 last week.  The mother-of-two, 80, passed away at the Villajoyosa Hospital near the Benidorm resort where she rose to international fame. Her daughter, María Aragüés Gadea, said Vicky sadly died on her 42nd birthday, adding it was a day she will ‘remember for the rest of my life’. ‘My mum was in hospital for the last 12 days of her life and as a family we’ve been with her and have been able to say goodbye to her. I was by her bedside when she died this morning. She passed away as they were changing her morphine bottle,’ she told The Flying Monkeys. ‘She has gone, surrounded by her family, with all of our love. I thank God for being able to always be by her side, I am left with a broken heart. Vicky retired from her act in 2016, aged 72, after stunning generations with her X-rated tricks that made creative use of household objects including ping-pong balls, razor blades and beer bottles. She endured health complications as she got older, fighting cancer and undergoing at least two hip replacements. Maria, who took over her mother’s act after her retirement, confirmed two years ago that her mother had ‘won her fight against cancer with radiotherapy and chemotherapy’ but had since been diagnosed with dementia. Born in 1943 in Tenerife, Victoria María Aragüés Gadea, a trained ballet dancer, became an icon in Spain’s touristic city of Benidorm thanks to her exotic, x-rated performances of her vaginal magic show. The mother-of-two moved to the city in south-east Spain in 1980 where she became a legend of the holiday hotspot visited by millions of British tourists. Her show – which ran for move than three decades – involved pulling a variety of objects from her vagina, including ping pong balls, razor blades, eggs, handkerchiefs and machetes. It would end with the lights dimming and her producing a lit light bulb. An estimated six million people saw the show – which she would invariably perform six times in a night, six days a week – since she started it in the mid-1970s. And she once marked the third series of ITV’s comedy show Benidorm starring Johnny Vegas by officially opening Mel’s Mobility Shop before it caught fire. She was once described by a guide to Benidorm as such a ‘must-see’ that leaving without experiencing her show would be like buying fish without chips. Vicky finally retired in 2016 aged 72 after she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. 

A mortuary worker was left horrified after a 90-year-old woman appeared to come back to life in a body bag. Norma Silveira da Silva was gasping for breath when the worker found her hours after she was pronounced dead at the Sao Jose Regional Hospital in Brazil on Saturday. He rushed her back to her hospital bed to recover but tragically she died just a day later. Norma’s friend and caregiver Jessica Martins Silvi Pereira, 30, said the family plans to sue the hospital. She said: “It’s a case of neglect that I would not wish on anyone. When he opened the bag she was breathing very weakly. And, as she was no longer conscious, she couldn’t ask for help, she tried to breathe and couldn’t. I mean, from 11.40pm until 1.30am she was inside the bag almost dying asphyxiated.” Norma’s second death certificate, seen by local media, suggests she died of sepsis — a deadly reaction to an infection. Doctors initially listed an infection as the cause of death on her first death certificate before she was taken to the mortuary. After her horrific ordeal in the morgue, she was taken back to her ward. Jessica told local media: “On Saturday afternoon, I went to visit her and she opened her eye. She didn’t have much stimulation, but she managed to open her eye and saw that we were there.” Tragically she passed away the following day and Jessica said Norma’s family have still not been told what her cause of death was. Her case will be investigated by Brazil’s Medical Ethics Committee and the Death Commission, according to local media. The Regional Council of Medicine of the State of Santa Catarina said it “was aware of the situation and will institute appropriate procedures to monitor the case”.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is expected to survive a stabbing attack he suffered while serving time for the 2020 killing of George Floyd. Chauvin was attacked on Friday at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona, a medium-security prison that has been plagued by security lapses and staffing shortages. A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office told the Flying Monkeys over the weekend that the convicted former law enforcement officer is expected to survive the injuries he sustained, but declined to elaborate on Chauvin’s condition. An earlier press release by the correctional facility stated that guards had initiated life-saving measures upon finding the victim at around 12.30pm on Friday and that the inmate was later transported to a hospital. Prosecutors who successfully pursued a second-degree murder conviction against Chauvin at a jury trial in 2021 condemned the attack. “I am sad to hear that Derek Chauvin was the target of violence,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement on Saturday. Chauvin’s mother Carolyn Pawlenty told us that she had learned about her son’s stabbing on the news. Visiting at the facility, which has about 380 inmates, has been suspended in the aftermath of the stabbing.

On This Day

  • 1697 – St Paul’s Cathedral, rebuilt to the design of Sir Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of London, is consecrated. 
  • 1942 – During the Manhattan Project, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. 
  • 1982 – At the University of Utah, Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart. 
  • 1993 – Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is shot and killed by police in Medellín. 
  • 1999 – The United Kingdom devolves political power in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive following the Good Friday Agreement.  


  • 1814 – Marquis de Sade, French philosopher, author, and politician (b. 1740). 
  • 1982 – Marty Feldman, English actor and comedian (b. 1933). 
  • 1986 – Desi Arnaz, Cuban-American actor, singer, and television producer (b. 1917). 
  • 1993 – Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug lord (b. 1949). 
  • 1997 – Shirley Crabtree, English wrestler (b. 1930). 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Brendan Fraser (55), Amanda Seyfried (38), Julianne Moore (63), Daryl Hannah (63), Ozzy Osbourne (75), Lucy Liu (55), Lesley-Ann Brandt (42), Britney Spears (42), Connie Booth (83), Nelly Furtado (45), Zoë Kravitz (35), Riz Ahmed (41), Sarah Silverman (53), Bette Midler (78), Ridley Scott (86), Kaley Cuoco (38), Ben Stiller (58), Woody Allen (88), Mandy Patinkin (71), Gemma Chan (41), Diane Ladd (88), Jeff Fahey (71), Don Cheadle (59), Gena Lee Nolin (52), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (39), Alan Ritchson (41), Karen Gillan (36), Ed Harris (73), Judd Nelson (64), Martin Clunes (62), Ellie Taylor (40), Armando Iannucci (60), Jon Stewart (61), Fisher Stevens (60), Sharlto Copley (50), and Robin Givens (59). 

Dead Pool 26th November 2023

Last week I threatened to send out the Flying Monkeys, and they didn’t disappoint. Even diplomatic immunity couldn’t spare Joss Ackland his chance to meet his maker.   

Look Who You Could Have Had:

 In Other News

One of the fattest men in the world has been found dead in his home just days after he vowed to shed the weight. Leonid Andreev, 60, weighed more than three baby elephants and had been trapped in his own home for five years. The 44-stone man was found at home in the village of Armizonskoye, Russia, only a day day after he told local media how he was planning a new life of losing weight and moving apartments. But on Friday, he was found dead in his home after reportedly suffering from a heart attack. He said he planned to start a new diet with just a cup of light soup for lunch. It came after a doctor warned him he had to lose at least seven stone in order to live normally again. Andreev said: ‘I tried to lose at least a little weight – I ate less and did not indulge in flour products.’ The 60-year-old was married and divorced twice and had no children. He also shocked reporters by revealing that he used to be an athlete and weighed just 11 stone. Tragically, just ten years ago Andreev was a hunter who ran his own farm and took part in harvesting the crops. Andreev said his weight problems began when he left a career in the army and in just three months, his weight nearly doubled to 16 stone and never stopped rising. His weight gain was caused by a metabolic disorder and five years ago his size was so much that he had to quit work. Then he began his reclusive life on the sofa where he lived and slept while watching TV all day as his neighbours helped clean and take care of his house. At one point, Andreev’s blood pressure soared so high that he called for an ambulance. However, after controlling his symptoms, paramedics refused further aid because of his weight. He said: ‘In the morning, I get up, cook food, eat a little, watch TV. Tried to move here, move there. I used to have porridge – the heaviest, well, and buns, potatoes, bread. That’s how I got fat, probably.’ Even though Andreev was extremely heavy, there have been fatter people in history. American Jo Brower Minnoch was the fattest man who ever lived and weighed 100 stone (see below).  

Each year, fans are left scratching their heads when I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here contestants are excused from some of the trials. Before the series kicked off, former UKIP leader Farage was asked about the trials he could avoid due to his severe injuries from a plane crash in 2010 that he sadly survived. He said: “Anything involving weightlifting, I’d be out. I’ve obviously had some quite serious physical injuries and neck reconstructions, and goodness knows what else. So they are fully aware that I’m a little bit damaged when it comes to bodily structure. But having said that, I can still do most things. I doubt any of the trials are actually going to kill me, although I don’t think they’ll all be a bag of fun. But look, I signed up for this. It’s in for a penny in for a pound. So let’s go.” Farage suffered long-lasting injuries after an aeroplane he was flying, displaying a banner with the slogan ‘Vote for your country – Vote UKIP’, crashed on polling day for the general election in 2010. He managed to escape the wreckage but suffered from a punctured lung, two chipped vertebrae, several fractured ribs and a fractured sternum. Three years later, he underwent an operation to help with the health problems caused by the crash, and told the Flying Monkeys that he had a “couple of discs removed and replaced” in his back. In 2015, he admitted that he was experiencing tremendous pain in his shoulder and back and had been prescribed the strong sleeping pill Temazepam. He had been visiting the hospital twice a week for treatment and was struggling to raise his arms above a 45-degree angle. He added: “I think I am going to have to have medical treatment for the rest of my life.” Before the accident, the 59-year-old also had a serious car crash in his 20s, and problems from the accidents combined have left him with the ‘body of a 70-year-old’. Let’s hope he does the decent thing and dies on the show. 

On This Day

  • 1820 – An 80-ton sperm whale attacks and sinks the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) from the western coast of South America. (Herman Melville‘s 1851 novel Moby-Dick was in part inspired by this incident.)
  • 1947 – The Princess Elizabeth marries Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, who becomes the Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in London.
  • 1974 – The first fatal crash of a Boeing 747 occurs when Lufthansa Flight 540 crashes while attempting to take-off from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 59 out of the 157 people on board.
  • 1985 – Microsoft Windows 1.0, the first graphical personal computer operating environment developed by Microsoft, is released. Windows has now been shit for 38 years.
  • 1990 – Andrei Chikatilo, one of the Soviet Union’s most prolific serial killers, is arrested; he eventually confesses to 56 killings.


  • 1910 – Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and playwright (b. 1828).
  • 2003 – Robert Addie, English actor (b. 1960).
  • 2006 – Robert Altman, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1925).

The Heaviest Man Who Ever Lived

Jon Brower Minnoch was an American man who was the heaviest recorded human in history, weighing approximately 635 kilograms; 100 stone at his peak. 

Minnoch was born in 1941 in Seattle, Washington, as the only child to John Minnoch and June (née Brower). Minnoch’s father worked as a machinist and died of a heart attack in 1962. Minnoch’s mother was a graduate of Seattle Pacific University and worked as a registered nurse at Providence Hospital and later as a telephone operator. June died in 1986, three years after her son. 

Minnoch suffered from obesity since childhood. At the age of 12, he weighed 133 kilograms (21 stone). By age 22, he weighed 178 kilograms (28 stone) and became 320 kilograms (50 stone) in 1963. Minnoch stood 6ft 1in in height and had a body fat percentage of about 80%. Minnoch said water retention was the primary cause of his obesity, however British obesity specialist David Haslam contends Minnoch’s water retention was a consequence of his severe weight, not the cause of it. 

Despite his condition, Minnoch tried to live a conventional life and stated that he was “in no way handicapped”. He drove taxi cabs for 17 years and married his wife, Jean McArdle, in 1963. The couple operated the Bainbridge Island Taxi Co. together, the only taxi cab on the island at the time. According to a friend, Minnoch had a reputation as a “warm and funny family man” on the island. In March 1978, Minnoch weighed twelve times his 50 kilograms; (8 stone) wife, breaking the record for the greatest weight disparity between a married couple. Minnoch and McArdle divorced in 1980 and he married Shirley Ann Griffen in 1982 and fathered two sons, John and Jason. 

Minnoch eventually “got so tired” of being heavy that he decided to cut his food intake to “almost nothing”. Under a doctor’s prescription, he went on a 600-calorie-a-day diet of only vegetables. He also took large doses of a diuretic that failed to eliminate excess fluid in his body. After about three weeks of weakness and being bedridden, he listened to his wife’s pleas to enter a hospital. Minnoch was admitted to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle in March 1978, suffering from heart and respiratory failure. Firefighters were forced to remove a window at his home and place him on a thick piece of plywood. By now Minnoch was unable to move or speak. It took over a dozen firemen, rescue personnel, and a specially modified stretcher to transport him to the hospital. There, he was placed on two beds pushed together, and it took thirteen attendants to roll him over. 

At the hospital, Minnoch was diagnosed with a massive oedema, a condition in which the body accumulates excess extracellular fluid. Due to his poor health, measuring his weight with a scale was impossible. However, endocrinologist Robert Schwartz estimated his weight to be about 635 kilograms (100 stone). According to Schwartz, he was “probably more than that. He was by at least 300 pounds the heaviest person ever reported”, and “probably the most unusual thing about Minnoch’s case was that he lived”. He reached a peak body mass index (BMI) of 186kg/m2 and spent several days on a respirator. His doctors described his medical state as “critical”. Schwartz said Minnoch displayed symptoms of Pickwickian syndrome, where insufficient breathing causes one’s level of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream to rise. 

Minnoch remained in the hospital for two years and was put on a diet of 1,200 calories day. When discharged from the hospital, he weighed 216kg (34 stone), having lost 419kg; (66 stone), the largest human weight loss ever documented at the time. He hoped to eventually reach a weight of about 95 kilograms (15 stone), stating, “I’ve waited 37 years to get this chance at a new life”. Despite this, he soon started to gain weight again. He was readmitted to the hospital just over a year later in October 1981, after his weight increased to 432kg (68 stone); he had managed to gain 91 kg (14 stone) in just seven days!!!

He died 23 months later on September 4th 1983, aged 41. At the time of his death, he weighed 362kg (57 stone). According to his death certificate, Minnoch’s immediate cause of death was cardiac arrest, with respiratory failure and restrictive lung disease as contributing factors. He was buried in a wooden casket made of plywood 34 inch thick and lined with cloth. The coffin took up two cemetery plots, and eleven men were needed to transport his casket to his burial place at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Rita Ora (33), Kristin Bauer (57), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (35), Christina Applegate (52), John Larroquette (76), Kristian Nairn (48), Bruno Tonioli (68), Sarah Hyland (33), Katherine Heigl (45), Colin Hanks (46), Stephen Merchant (49), Denise Crosby (66), Billy Connolly (81), Conleth Hill (59), Dwight Schultz (76), Kayvan Novak (45), Michelle Gomez (57), Miley Cyrus (31), Scarlett Johansson (39), Mark Ruffalo (56), Mads Mikkelsen (58), Jamie Lee Curtis (65), Terry Gilliam (83), Goldie Hawn (78), Alexander Siddig (58), Björk (58), Sean Young (64), Ming-Na Wen (60), Joe Biden (81), and Bo Derek (67).

Dead Pool 12th November 2023

I think we can all be forgiven for not knowing anyone on this weeks death list. Quite a feat really, considering the amount of killing going on around the world…  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A skull that was on sale in a thrift store as a Halloween decoration turned out to be the real deal, after an anthropologist recognised it as belonging to a human. The anthropologist, who happened to be shopping in the store in the North Fort Myers area of Florida, spotted the human skull casually on display waiting to be purchased in the Halloween section of the store. Recognising it as the real article, authorities were called to the store. Lee County Sheriff’s Office said that detectives responded and recovered the skull, later confirming that the item was indeed human. The store owner told police that the skull had been found in a storage unit that they had bought years ago. While the police do not believe the case is suspicious, they will be working with the local medical examiner’s office to conduct further tests on the skull. In Florida, it is illegal to knowingly sell or buy any human organ or tissue for valuable consideration; this also includes bones. In September, another human skull was found by store employees in a Goodwill donation box in Arizona. That skull, which had a false eye in its left socket, was seized by police, but they concluded it was not associated with any crime. 

Tributes have poured in for Raymond Calvert, Britain’s oldest father who passed away aged 91 after having a baby at 78 with his 25-year-old lover. The former shop owner became a father for the seventh time in 2010 when son Jamie Rai was born to partner Charlotte, who was 54 years his junior. The pensioner described the little boy, who weighed 7lb 1oz at birth, as a ‘gift from God’. Mr Calvert passed away on December 1st last year, at Royal Preston Hospital on following a fall, with his family left ‘heartbroken’. His funeral was held just four days before Christmas at Skipton Crematorium. His former lover Charlotte, now 38, who took his surname but never married him, currently lives with their son Jamie Rai, aged 12, in his cottage in Colne, Lancashire. After the birth of his seventh child, he told the Flying Monkeys at the time: ‘I am the most fortunate man in the world. It makes me feel 10ft tall. The baby was planned and I did not use Viagra or anything like that. I didn’t actually think at my age that it would be possible to have a child, but he’s a beautiful little fella. I feel blessed. I look at that baby and I think, ‘He’s so bloody healthy and good-looking – how did I make that?’’ Mr Calvert has six other children who are all older than his partner and range in age from 51 to 64. He raised them alone after his wife died 41 years ago. He told the Flying Monkeys he first met Miss Calvert following a three-year relationship with her mother. She was 16 at the time and joined him on caravan holidays with his children. The pair only saw each other occasionally until she became friends with his daughter Denise. Five years later, romance blossomed. Mr Calvert, from Winewall, Lancashire, told the Flying Monkeys that the age gap was never an issue. He said: ‘As time went by, Charlotte said she wanted a baby – and that she wanted it with me. I was delighted when Charlotte told me she was pregnant. It was a wonderful, wonderful feeling.’ Raymond noted that he’s always gone out with women who are 20 to 25 years younger than him. Charlotte left school with three A-levels and was on a childcare course before falling pregnant. Recalling the moment she realised she wanted the baby, she said: ‘I realised it would be nice to have a baby with Raymond. He has such a lot of nice qualities.’  

Brazilian singer Darlyn Morais died on Monday of complications from being bitten in the face by a spider! Morais fell ill after he was bitten by the spider at his home in the northeastern city of Miranorte on October 31st. His 18-year-old stepdaughter also suffered a spider bite and is currently hospitalised and in stable condition, Morais’ wife Jhullyenny Lisboa told our Brazilian Flying Monkeys. Lisboa said that Morais experienced body fatigue and that the colour of the bruise on his face started to change as a result of the bite. Morais developed allergic reactions later during the week and visited a hospital in Miranorte, where he was treated and discharged Friday. ‘He felt weakness in his body and his face started to darken on the same day,’ Lisboa said. ‘He went to the hospital and was admitted to Palmas General hospital this Sunday.’ Morais immersed himself into the music world at the age of 15 and sang forró, a popular genre of music in Brazil’s northeast region that is based on a combination of the accordion, zabumba and metal triangle. His small, three-man band included his brother and a friend. Morais, who had six-year-old girl and one-year-old year boy with his wife, was planning planning a live show in January 2024 that was going to be recorded  and released on DVD. 

On This Day

  • 1961 – Terry Jo Duperrault is the sole survivor of a series of brutal murders aboard the ketch Bluebelle.
  • 1970 – The Oregon Highway Division attempts to destroy a rotting beached sperm whale with explosives, leading to the now infamous “exploding whale” incident.
  • 1990 – Tim Berners-Lee publishes a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.
  • 2021 – The Los Angeles Superior Court formally ends the 14-year conservatorship to pop singer Britney Spears


  • 1981 – William Holden, American actor (b. 1918).
  • 2014 – Warren Clarke, English actor, director, and producer (b. 1947).
  • 2018 – Stan Lee, American comic book writer, editor, and publisher (b. 1922).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ryan Gosling (43), Anne Hathaway (41), Wallace Shawn (80), Max Grodénchik (71), Neil Young (78), Leonardo DiCaprio (49), Stanley Tucci (63), Demi Moore (61), Richard Dormer (54), Calista Flockhart (59), Taron Egerton (34), Hugh Bonneville (60), Neil Gaiman (63), Tracy Morgan (55), Robert Duncan McNeill (59), Lou Ferrigno (72), Tara Reid (48), Parker Posey (55), Gretchen Mol (51), Matthew Rhys (49), Richard Curtis (67), Jack Osbourne (38), Gordon Ramsay (57), Adam Devine (40), Emma Stone (35), Ethan Hawke (53), Rebecca Romijn (51), Sally Field (77), Thandiwe Newton (51), and Nigel Havers (72).

Dead Pool 5th November 2023

Not a lot to say this week, so let’s crack on!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Michael J. Fox has revealed he’s not afraid of death in a candid interview about his health. The Back to the Future star was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, and in a recent interview on Thursday, he has discussed his relationship with death, saying he ‘doesn’t fear it’. Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged. The main symptoms of the condition usually revolve around movement, with the person experiencing tremors in the hand or arm, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness. In his documentary, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, the star recalled the first time he noticed the signs of the disease. He recounted waking up one morning to find his pinky finger twitching uncontrollably, and described the finger as ‘auto-animated.’ However, Fox didn’t open up about his diagnosis until several years later in 1998. In the documentary, he also added that ‘no one outside of the family knew’ about his diagnosis. And now, in an interview with the Flying Monkeys, he’s discussed his ‘complicated’ view of Parkinson’s. He said: “It’s very complicated. I’ve said Parkinson’s is a gift. It’s the gift that keeps on taking, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways.” The 62-year-old previously spoke about how life was ‘getting harder’ since his diagnosis – with him breaking bones in his body and almost losing a finger due to an infection. He’d told us in April that he didn’t think he’d live to be 80. “Its banging on the door. I’m not gonna lie. It’s gettin’ hard, it’s gettin’ harder. It’s gettin’ tougher. Every day it’s tougher. But, that’s the way it is.” he said. Adding: “You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s. So I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it … I’m not gonna be 80. I’m not gonna be 80.” However, it seems that Fox has accepted the possibility of death. “One day I’ll run out of gas,” he said. “One day I’ll just say, ‘It’s not going to happen. I’m not going out today. If that comes, I’ll allow myself that. I’m 62 years old. Certainly, if I were to pass away tomorrow, it would be premature, but it wouldn’t be unheard of. And so, no, I don’t fear that.”  

Linda Nolan has bravely opened up about her fear amid living alongside incurable cancer and shared her memory is beginning to deteriorate. The Nolan Sisters singer, 64, was first diagnosed with cancer nearly 20 years ago. She’s had incurable secondary breast cancer since 2017 which has since spread to the brain and caused her to experience hair loss for the fourth time in her life. Writing in her latest column this week, Linda reveals her nephew and his family are moving overseas – something that has proven to be difficult and bittersweet for the singer, as she knows she may never seem them again. “You’re over the moon for them and yet, when I say goodbye, I know I might not see them again,” Linda writes. “That’s the elephant in the room.” Linda continues to share with readers her fears about living alongside her cancer diagnosis, admitting: “I’m not going to panic because, if I panic, cancer wins.” She realises she needs “to be realistic” as “the reality is, my memory seems to be getting worse.” She adds: “My memory has been lapsing for a while. You can imagine the comments about my age… But I didn’t, because deep down it doesn’t feel right. As I said, I won’t panic. My balance is still better than it was, I’m not having headaches. I have some scans arranged and I’ll wait for them. Alone sometimes in my bedroom I’ll just lie there and think I wonder if I’ll be here in a month? Will it all happen very quickly?”   

Comedian Mark Steel has shared an update with his followers, sharing that he’s now using a tube to feed himself through his nose. Last month, Mark announced he had been diagnosed with a cancer that “can be got rid of”. At the time of sharing his news, he said he had noticed that his neck was “looking much bigger than normal”. Now, he has shared an update with his online followers regarding his condition. Taking to Instagram, Mark was seen in the kitchen of his home and said: “Now, because of something to do with an epiglottis which has gone wrong during some surgery for the time being, I’ve got to feed myself through this tube, with this peculiar drink.” Demonstrating how the contraption worked, he added: “It goes in there and I’ve learnt how to do it, I have to do it every three hours. “And this is me eating, this is me having a meal. I’ve never felt so English. I’ve had a couple of people come round while I was doing it and I was thinking ‘Oh it’s quite rude not to offer them any, ain’t it.’ All I’ve got to do is fix you up with a tube that goes down through your throat and oesophagus and into your stomach and then get the syringe, you’ve got to flush out the pipes first, lock that off, there’s all techniques to doing it, squirt it out, pump it into your tube and directly into your stomach. It’s no trouble honestly, honestly, there’s plenty to go around, I felt really, I’d had a couple of mates round and I felt really bad, you can’t eat and not offer your guests any food.” Mark added: “They don’t tell you that do they? When they say you’ve got cancer.” His upload which has raked up hundreds of likes was soon flooded with support.  Having visited his doctors for an initial check-up, Mark was sent for a biopsy on his ever-growing swelling. Following his biopsy, he was told he would hear back from them within a week. However, there were no updates after almost 14 days and the hospital explained they lost the biopsy in transit. Not long after, he received a phone call about his cancer diagnosis. Mark said: “Then a completely new person called me, and said I had to go in for a repeat biopsy the next day ‘to see what stage of cancer you have’. ‘Hang on,’ I said, ‘No one has said it’s definitely cancer, are you saying it’s definitely cancer?’ She paused. ‘Yes. Had no one told you?'” Despite this, he urged his blog readers to be polite to NHS staff due to their increased workload and “appalling” salaries.

On This Day

  • 1605 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is arrested in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament, where he had planted gunpowder in an attempt to blow up the building and kill King James I of England.
  • 1925 – Secret agent Sidney Reilly, the first “super-spy” of the 20th century, is executed by the OGPU, the secret police of the Soviet Union.
  • 1940 – Franklin D. Roosevelt is the first and only President of the United States to be elected to a third term.
  • 1983 – The Byford Dolphin diving bell accident kills five and leaves one severely injured.
  • 2006 – Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, and his co-defendants are sentenced to death.
  • 2007 – The Android mobile operating system is unveiled by Google, causing 16 years of frustration.


A dinner party for dead guests

My friends came to a silent supper with their dead friends and relatives so that we could grieve our loved ones together.

I don’t normally feel worried about having my friends over for dinner. Usually, I’ll be covered in splashes of soup and partially dressed when they arrive, but tonight I feel nervous.

Figuring out who to invite was complicated. Not only did they have to be available at short notice, but they had to be up for it, open to something different. Because this evening everyone has been asked to bring a plus-one … someone who has died.

As my living guests begin to arrive, bringing in the dark and subtle nip of the October air, I have the strong sense that they are not alone. I take their coats and ask them for the photo of their guest. Out of their pockets come snapshots. Smiling portraits, a moment of laughter on the stairs, a child on the beach, the ruffled ears of a French bulldog, a matriarch blurred by clouds of cigarette smoke.

In the other room, it’s quiet. The table is laid with candles, autumn leaves from the park and bright flowers, and there are twice as many plates laid at the table as there will be people in the room. I put each photo in its place. Because this is where we will serve food to the dead. We will eat, sometimes in silence, but we’ll talk and remember and, probably, cry. This is a silent supper. A feast for the dead.

It isn’t something I’d even have thought to do if I hadn’t been hanging out with witches for the series Witch for BBC Sounds and Radio 4. I’ve rarely felt comfortable or at ease talking about the dead or talking to someone who’s grieving, but for witches this seems to be different. Over the past year I’ve taken part in seances, been to an ancestor ritual and made an ancestor bottle for the spirit of a loved one. Most witches have regular rituals and altars for their ancestors and, of course, they have a dedicated season for remembrance. Witches believe that on 31 October, or Samhain, the “veil” is thin. It’s a skin between life and death that becomes more porous throughout October until, on this night, life and death can pour into each other – a lot like the world we see around us.

There are twice as many plates at the table as people in the room.

This is the idea we play with at Halloween when ghouls and night terrors come knocking at our door. There’s a playfulness and joy at the idea of the afterlife being present, but in reality it’s so far out of reach. This year, I’ve decided to search for meaningful ways to remember the dead.

I decided that hosting a silent supper – historically known as a “dumb supper” – could be a good start. Eating in silence and feasting for the dead has been part of life for centuries. In England, there used to be a tradition called “chesting”.

Prof Diane Purkiss, author of English Food: A People’s History, explains: “This was even more of an Irish wake than an Irish wake. It involved having a feast that was laid out on the coffin of the deceased person. A massive blowout meal with huge treats and sugary goo. It’s honouring the dead, but it’s also quite visceral because you’re doing it on the coffin and it almost brings them physically into the feast.”

A silent supper is one step further. “What you’re describing is a ritual around the scariest and most taboo thing, which is the dead,” she says, “and this is because witches have a very special relationship with them. I define a witch as someone who doesn’t see the dead the way other people do.”

That’s certainly true. Last year my friend, colleague and witch Tatum Swithenbank reached the age at which a much loved and needed auntie had died. So their coven held a silent supper. “Sometimes we just want a space to talk about the people who have passed and there’s not really any great comfort you can give in words,” they told me. “What’s better than listening in a neutral space? That was the power of it. I don’t think you have to be a witch or be practising to do that.” They ate cheese, skull-shaped pizzas and a pumpkin pie.

Feeling under-qualified to host my own silent supper, I ask for advice. “Making it dark, with only candles, really helps because people feel they are not as exposed,” says Tatum. “And it’s important to say something at the beginning. I acknowledged that grief is messy and complicated.” Another witch who loves a silent supper is Emma Griffin, who shares the ritual with her children. “It’s really nice for them to know their heritage,” she says. “We’ll have supper and talk about death, look through photos and also talk about death bringing changes. This year we are making food that my dad would like – meat and potato pie, mash and gravy.”

She advises me to make the space sacred and gentle. “I suggest giving people a dress code. When they come over your threshold, give them a little tea-light. Remember, it’s a celebration of life. And you want to burn myrrh,” she says, gently but firmly as she talks me through my first ever online myrrh purchase. “It will smoke a lot, so don’t panic.”

The most pressing question of all is what on earth am I going to feed the dead? “Traditionally, the dead seem to want luxury foods,” says Purkiss. “They tend to eat dessert first, you know, life is short, eat dessert first. The dead always feel undervalued and in a way it makes them shirty so you are trying to get them to a position where they feel you value them.”

So, before the event, I threw myself (and my partner) into planning a six-course feast, my guests constantly in mind, especially the dead ones. What would they want? What would we give them if we had the chance again?

I bring Grandma Suzette. The family rarely talks about her

Purkiss approves. “Isn’t that what we all want?” she says. “When someone dies, virtually the first thing you feel is, ‘Oh, if only. If only I’d done this, or if only I’d found the time’. And the whole point of the ceremony is to give yourselves the healing chance to show great aunt Sarah you did really care.”

On the night itself, I choose to bring Grandma Suzette, who I have never met. She died when my dad was a baby. The family rarely talk about her. As my own son turned one, the loss of her for my dad and his siblings, and for me, started to ring loudly in my body. I am desperate to grieve for her.

And that’s what we’re here to do tonight. There’s a lot of normal party noise in the kitchen, but when we enter the dining room, absolutely brimming with myrrh smoke, everything softens. First, we light a candle and welcome our dead guests to the table. It feels a little strange, but maybe it should be normal. After all, eating for – and even with the dead – was once a living tradition, one that’s been purposefully rubbed away.

“There was this way of seeing the dead as beings that you interact with,” says Purkiss, adding that Catholic death rituals, such as kissing ornately decorated bones of saints, or praying in huge ossuaries stacked with bodies, went out during the Reformation. “Protestants threw all of that out, partly because they thought it had become a bit of a scam and it probably had in some cases. But the phrase throwing out the baby with the bathwater comes powerfully to mind.”

And she might be right, because it’s only minutes into the evening when it becomes painfully, joyfully clear that everyone around the table needs this communion with the dead. The phrase “I haven’t allowed myself to grieve” comes up time and again. One friend hasn’t allowed herself to grieve for her mum for 11 years. Another drifted from someone she adored and never felt she had permission to mourn them. A pal describes her love and grief for her dog Buddy as tied up with her longing for a baby. We also share joy and memories. My sister brings my other hilarious, powerful granny. A friend shares the story of a grandad who brought him pure and uncomplicated joy.

The talking is a release, but so is acknowledging the empty places. “People did that a lot after the First World War,” Purkiss says. “They would lay places at Christmas dinner for people who had died. It makes sense.” There are three mini courses that we eat without speaking. We reflect or we write, and then we burn things we wished we could say to them.

As the courses continue to roll out, my guests talk about how much their plus-ones would have loved the feast, the wine. The chance to eat dessert again and again. We make them feel loved through food. Buddy the dog would have had a field day.

We eat too much, raise glasses of sweet mead to everyone, say the names of people out loud many, many times. We look each other straight in the eyes. No one shies away from death. By the end we all stink of myrrh, but it is as though something had shifted, for all of us. For me, I know how to talk about my grandma now, and I cannot wait to keep celebrating the people I miss in my life.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Famke Janssen (59), Tilda Swinton (63), Sam Rockwell (55), Robert Patrick (65), Elke Sommer (83), Armin Shimerman (74), Tamzin Outhwaite (53), Matthew McConaughey (54), Olivia Taylor Dudley (38), Ralph Macchio (62), Dolph Lundgren (66), Kate Capshaw (70), Roseanne Barr (71), Dylan Moran (52), David Schwimmer (57), Stefanie Powers (81), Toni Collette (51), Peter Jackson (62), Stephen Rea (77), Clémence Poésy (41), Fiona Dourif (42), Henry Winkler (78), Juliet Stevenson (67), and Jessica Hynes (51).

Dead Pool 29th October 2023

The shocking news this week is the passing of Matthew Perry. Although he had his personal  demons, I don’t think anyone expected to wake up this morning to hear of his death. As the outpouring of grief unfolds, we can at least look back at his career with great joy. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

The world’s oldest dog ever has died at the age of 31 years and 165 days. Guinness World Record holder Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, passed away at his home in Portugal on Saturday. His death was announced on social media by a veterinarian who met Bobi several times. “Despite outliving every dog in history, his 11,478 days on earth would never be enough, for those who loved him,” wrote Dr Karen Becker. Bobi became both the world’s oldest living dog and the oldest dog ever in February, beating an almost century-old record for the latter title. The previous oldest dog ever was Australia’s Bluey, who died in 1939 at the age of 29 years and five months. Bobi’s grand old age was validated by the Portuguese government’s pet database, which is managed by the National Union of Veterinarians. The identity of Bobi’s successor to the title of world’s oldest living dog has not yet been revealed. Bobi lived his whole life with the Costa family in the village of Conqueiros, near Portugal’s west coast, after being born with three siblings in an outbuilding. Leonel Costa, who was eight years old at the time, said his parents had too many animals and had to put the puppies down, but Bobi escaped. Mr Costa and his brothers kept the dog’s existence a secret from their parents until he was eventually discovered and became part of the family, who fed him the same food they eat. Apart from a scare in 2018 when he was hospitalised after suddenly collapsing due to breathing difficulty, Mr Costa said in February that Bobi had enjoyed a relatively trouble-free life and thought the secret to his longevity was the “calm, peaceful environment” he lived in. However, he had experienced trouble walking and worsening eyesight prior to his death. Bobi was not the only dog owned by the Mr Costa to live a long life. Bobi’s mother lived to the age of 18 while another of the family’s dogs died at the age of 22.  

Comedian Rhod Gilbert has received his first clear cancer scan after undergoing treatment. The 55-year-old Welshman announced in July that he had cancer and was being treated at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, where he had been a fundraising patron for a decade before the diagnosis. He underwent surgery for metastatic cancer of the head and neck, followed by sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Gilbert told the Flying Monkeys discovering his cancer hadn’t spread was “the best day of my life”. “I was back on the road earlier this year, I got a call to say my latest scan had shown the cancer was in the areas they knew about, but it wasn’t in my lungs or my brain,” he said. The news was later followed by his first clear scan, to which Gilbert said: “The best thing was that the tumour had gone, and it was once again an ordinary blood vessel.” Days before his treatment was set to begin, Gilbert approached a documentary team to film his experience. “I was lying in bed on the Friday, with my treatment due to start the following Monday, I rang the team I knew – there was no broadcaster on board, it was all on spec – and I asked, ‘How would you fancy joining me on this journey?’ It was partly for me. I’d cancelled all my TV work and tours, and I wanted to have something other than ‘cancer’ in my diary. I knew I wouldn’t be well enough to go on stage or TV, but I thought I might be well enough to lie in bed and talk to a documentary team about how ill I was. I thought, ‘It will give me something to do’.” Gilbert said it all began when “a tumour popped up on my neck” on the day of a fundraising walk for the Velindre Cancer Centre, and the following months of treatment meant he “wasn’t well enough even to read or watch television”.  

Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin may have suffered a “cardiac arrest” on Sunday evening according to a statement posted on a Telegram channel which regularly says the war-mongering leader is terminally ill. The channel – General SVR – suggests all recent appearances by the Russian dictator, including foreign visits, have been carried out by a body double or doubles. It claimed that doctors had to resuscitate Putin before taking him to a special intensive care facility located within his official residence. “Doctors performed resuscitation, having previously determined that the president was in cardiac arrest,” reported the channel. “Help was provided on time, the heart was started and Putin regained consciousness.” There was no immediate response from the Kremlin to the claim but officials have previously strongly denied Putin, 71, suffers from health problems. The post on General SVR – which claims, without having ever provided any proof, to have an inside source on his entourage – continued: “At about 21:05 Moscow time, security officers of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who were on duty at the residence, heard noise and sounds of falling coming from the president’s bedroom. Two security officers immediately followed into the president’s bedroom and saw Putin lying on the floor next to the bed and an overturned table with food and drinks. Probably, when the president fell, he hit the table and dishes and knocked them onto the floor, which caused the noise. Putin convulsively arched while lying on the floor, rolling his eyes. The doctors who were on duty at the residence and located in one of the adjacent rooms were immediately called.” The channel alleged that “the president was moved to a specially equipped room in his residence, where the necessary medical equipment for resuscitation had already been installed”, adding that the president’s condition was “stabilised” and he is “under constant medical supervision”. It said: “We have already repeatedly talked about the deterioration of Putin’s health due to oncology and a number of other diseases. This case of cardiac arrest seriously alarmed the president’s inner circle, despite the fact that the attending doctors had already warned that Putin was very ill and was unlikely to live until the end of autumn. Recently, all official meetings and events have been conducted by the president’s double. After news of the evening incident, several people close to Putin contacted each other by telephone and agreed to hold consultations on Monday regarding possible actions if the president dies in the coming days.” Adding weight to the claims, footage of an unexplained late-evening dash to the Kremlin – the seat of Russian power – by Putin’s motorcade on Sunday evening, have surfaced. The president normally resides outside of Moscow and not in his official apartment in the vast government building. The channel is supposedly run by a former Kremlin lieutenant-general, known by the alias Viktor Mikhailovich. It claims his top apparatchiks and security henchmen control the activities of the doppelgängers. A recent Japanese TV report used AI to analyse Putin’s face, walk and voice in multiple appearances, and concluded that he does use body doubles. The head of Ukrainian military intelligence Lt-Gen Kyrylo Budanov has made the same claim, alleging the real Putin has not been seen since June 2022. He alleged last month: “The one, who everyone used to know, was last seen around June 26, 2022.” Putin was recently reported to have made trips to Kyrgyzstan and China, and to have been unusually active in travelling inside Russia. Last week he visited Perm, and held talks with his war commander General Valery Gerasimov in Rostov-on-Don after making a “detour” to visit the military headquarters. The channel says all these are by body doubles who underwent plastic surgery and years of training by Russian secret services to perform as Putin stand-ins. The claims were reported by the Ukrainian media.

On This Day

  • 1618 – English adventurer, writer, and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh is beheaded for allegedly conspiring against James I of England.
  • 1901 – In Amherst, Massachusetts, nurse Jane Toppan is arrested for murdering the Davis family of Boston with an overdose of morphine.
  • 1969 – The first-ever computer-to-computer link is established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.


  • 1618 – Walter Raleigh, English admiral, explorer, and politician, Lieutenant Governor of Jersey (b. 1554).
  • 1911 – Joseph Pulitzer, Hungarian-American publisher, lawyer, and politician, founded Pulitzer, Inc. (b. 1847).
  • 2011 – Jimmy Savile, English radio and television host, nonce (b. 1926).

The Godfather of Bungee

The maverick godfather of bungee jumping, who took the world’s first leap clutching a bottle of champagne and without testing the rope, has died peacefully in his bed. 

Born in 1945 as the eldest of seven children, David Kirke birthed the worldwide phenomenon some 34 years later on April Fool’s Day, when, dressed in a top hat and fresh from all-night party, he and his friends decided to bungee jump from Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. 

Describing Kirke as an “anarchic buccaneer” who was “Byronesque in thrall of living life to the full”, a friend of the family told The Independent that the septuagenarian “would have been shocked that he died quietly in his own bed”. 

But while undoubtedly his most influential exploit, bungee jumping was but one extraordinary stunt pioneered by Kirke and his friends in the name of good fun. 

Against the bleak backdrop of 1970s Britain, Kirke and several friends co-founded the Dangerous Sports Club, a group largely based in Oxford and London that gained notable attention in the ensuing decade for their daredevil activities, often donning top hats and coattails, and swigging champagne. 

The idea for their bungee jump had been inspired by a rite of passage on the island of Vanuatu known as “land diving”, which saw young men leap from high towers and use vines to break their fall before landing on the ground. 

While a demonstration of land diving for the late Queen during her visit to the Pacific island in 1974 went fatally wrong, that same year Kirke and his friends decided to attempt a similar feat, instead using elastic ropes used to help fighter jets land on aircraft carriers. 

“We hadn’t tested it, or anything like that,” Kirke told the Bristol Post in 2019. “We were called the Dangerous Sports Club, and testing it first wouldn’t have been particularly dangerous. 

“I was confident though. We had some very clever guys with us – Alan Weston went on to be head of development at Nasa – and they told me it was going to be okay, they had worked out the false extension curves of these ropes.” 

Being the first of his friends to jump that morning, while police officers staking out the bridge on the advice of concerned friends and family members had briefly “wandered off”, Kirke later recalled to ITV: “When the other guys came down, I thought, ‘whoopee, nobody’s dead’. 

“It was a sort of fairly casual easy-going recklessness. American novelists would call it the insouciance of youth, but there it was.”

While police arrested the group and took them to the cells, Kirke recalled that the “bemused” officers had “brought us in the half-drunken bottles of wine we’d left at the bridge,  and we were fined or something”. 

Soon afterwards, the Dangerous Sports Club carried out bungee jumps from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and performed a televised jump from the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado. 

Never lacking in imagination, Kirke and the growing membership of the Dangerous Sports Club would go on to perform a host of mind-bending stunts in locations across the world.

These would include Kirke sliding down the slopes of Saint-Moritz on a grand piano and an aborted bid to fly a car across Tower Bridge’s open drawbridge.

“The DSC began when I went with a fellow Oxford graduate chum, called Ed Hulton, to Switzerland to watch the Cresta Run and the bobsleigh,” Kirke told The Flying Monkeys in 1998. 

“We’d previously built a hang-glider from a 1903 design, which had crashed and smashed to pieces so we wanted to try the Cresta and the bobsleigh. We found they were a bit exaggerated so we thought we’d start something new.”

Members of the group catapulted themselves off cliffs, jumped off Cheddar Gorge, and hang-glided into 5,000ft of cloud over Mount Kilimanjaro.

“It was all just a giggle. We were the first people to ever fly off Mount Olympus on a hang glider,” said Kirke, whose father was a schoolmaster and mother was a concert pianist.

“It was amazing. We were standing at the top of the home of the Gods and as I flew down I asked myself, ‘Is this better than sex?’ It possibly is but may not be quite as good as the best passage in a Joseph Conrad novel’.”

While the club’s membership peaked in the 1980s, Kirke and his friends continued to push boundaries. In 1986, he was sponsored by Foster’s lager to fly across the Channel tied to a kangaroo-shaped cluster of helium balloons, leading to him being prosecuted for flying without a pilot’s licence. 

In a more tragic turn of events, two of Kirke’s friends were charged with manslaughter and later acquitted over the death of 19-year-old Oxford biochemistry student Kostadin Yankov, who died in 2002 after volunteering to be launched from a trebuchet and missing the safety net.

While not personally involved in the case, Kirke told the Flying Monkeys in February 2004 that it was “an extraordinary test case, about the right to experiment, at personal risk, versus social responsibility”.

Himself a student of psychology and philosophy, Kirke said: “We’re interested in new things. You make a fool of yourself, your girlfriend leaves you, you lose money, but you may have advanced things a tiny little half-inch. It’s a vocation, strangely enough, not that different from a Catholic priest.”

On Sunday, a friend of the family told The Flying Monkeys: “David upturned apple carts, always. He wanted to do things that diverted and disrupted and stretched imagination. He dared and he sometimes dare-devilled and paid the price. 

“What was non-negotiable was loyalty to his friends, and an unmovable desire to make art and literature pivotal to adventure and life.

“He was an anarchic buccaneer who left the world suddenly but he bequeathed a high bar for stretching imagination and adventure; he was Byronesque in thrall to living life to the full. He would have been shocked that he died quietly in his own bed.”

Last Week’s Birthdays

Winona Ryder (52), Rufus Sewell (56), Cleopatra Coleman (36), Ben Foster (43), Richard Dreyfuss (76), Dan Castellaneta (66), Joaquin Phoenix (49), Annie Potts (71), Julia Roberts (56), Gwendoline Christie (45), Matt Smith (41), Caitlyn Jenner (74), John Cleese (84), Robert Picardo (70), Kelly Osbourne (39), Cary Elwes (61), Seth MacFarlane (50), Jon Heder (46), Tom Cavanagh (60), Keith Urban (56), Katy Perry (39), Glynis Barber (68), Nancy Cartwright (66), Kevin Kline (76), F. Murray Abraham (84), Ryan Reynolds (47), Emilia Clarke (37), Sam Raimi (64), and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (64).

Dead Pool 22nd October 2023

Lets dish out the points!!! With Bobby Charlton kicking his last ball, Iwan, Shân, Mark and Fiona get 64 points, however Debbie gets 164 points for listing him as a Cert. Well done everyone! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sam Neill has been warned by doctors that his cancer treatment drug will stop working at some point, the actor said as he provided a health update months after revealing that he had been diagnosed with stage-three blood cancer. Earlier this year, the Jurassic Park star released his memoir Did I Ever Tell You This?, in which he revealed that he was being treated for Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma. At the time, Neill shared that he had originally undergone chemotherapy, but that the cancer had soon stopped responding. He then went onto an experimental anti-cancer drug. In a new interview, Neill, 76, shared that he’d upped his dosage of the “grim and depressing” drug from once a month to every two weeks. However, he said, he has now been in remission for 12 months. Neill told the Flying Monkeys that while he would be on the treatment indefinitely, doctors have told him that, at some point, it will stop working. “I’m prepared for that,” he said, adding that he is “not remotely afraid” of death. The star said that he had first found lumps in his neck in early 2022, and soon learnt that he had cancer. “I started to look at my life and realise how immensely grateful I am for so much of it,” Neill said. “I started to think I better write some of this down because I’m not sure how long I have to live. I was running against the clock.” First sharing his cancer diagnosis in March, the New Zealand actor – who is best known for playing palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park franchise – said that dying would “annoy” him. “I’d really like another decade or two, you know?” he said. “We’ve built all these lovely terraces, we’ve got these olive trees and cypresses, and I want to be around to see it all mature. And I’ve got my lovely little grandchildren. I want to see them get big. But as for the dying? I couldn’t care less.” In an interview with the Flying Monkeys earlier this year, however, Neill threw out the idea of retiring. “The idea of giving up my day job? Intolerable!” he said. “I love acting. It’s really good for me to keep walking onto new sets with young actors and all that stimulation. New words, new ideas, there’s nothing like it. I never want to give that up. The idea of retirement, of having to play golf, fills me with untold dread,” he said.  

Slade star Noddy Holder has revealed he has been battling throat cancer for five years and was given six months to live when he was diagnosed.  His wife Suzan Price, 57, detailed Noddy’s secret health battle in an emotional piece written for Great British Life on Thursday. The musician, 77, started a new trial of chemotherapy which has helped to keep him alive. Suzan wrote: ‘Five years ago we were given the devastating news that he had oesophageal cancer and only had six months to live. I’m sorry if that comes as a bit of a shock; it came as a total bombshell to us too. We coped with it the only way we could, by hunkering down, sticking together and doing everything we could to survive it. We told only immediate close family and friends and I will never apologise to those we did not confide in, only to those who were forced to suffer pain and anguish alongside us as we attempted to navigate our way through this new and horrifying world.’ Suzan married Noddy in 2004 – they have a son called Django. Noddy married dress designer Leandra Russell in 1976 and they had two daughters, Jessica and Charisse. They divorced in 1984. Suzan said the Merry Xmas Everybody singer has managed to keep a positive outlook despite his health woes.  He received treatment at The Christie Hospital in Manchester and underwent a groundbreaking new form of chemotherapy which has helped keep him alive.  Suzan wrote: ‘There were no guarantees, no one knew if it would have any effect, let alone work miracles, but he responded well. As anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis will know, the experts never like to use the word “cure”, but here we are five years later and he’s feeling good and looking great.’ Noddy has been in fine form and was able to perform on stage this summer after being invited on stage by Cheshire musician Tom Seals.  Slade earned themselves six UK Number One singles during their 25-year career. Their biggest hit was Merry Christmas Everybody in 1973, with its memorable chorus. The song is reported to bring in £500,000 in royalties alone each year. 

Former Playboy model Tabby Brown has been laid to rest  after she died aged 38. The model and dancer – who grew up in South London and was said to have dated footballer Mario Balotelli – died suddenly earlier this week, with her agent confirming the news. Brown had worked for Playboy and took part in Channel 5’s reality dating show, The Bachelor, alongside appearing in a plethora of ads – including Canon, Virgin Atlantic, Lynx and AXE. She was reportedly laid to rest on Wednesday, after what her family described as her ‘sudden’ death due to an unexplained ‘heart attack.’ A source close to her agent Richard Pascoe reportedly told the Flying Monkeys: ‘It was her funeral on Wednesday. She was Muslim so the burial was very quick as per their tradition. She died from a heart attack. That’s all we know for the moment. It’s very sad. She was loved and liked by so many people.’ A family member went on to describe her as a ‘beautiful person’ and explained their shock as she was ‘very fit and healthy.’ The funeral, said to have taken place at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park Mosque, had a ‘very large turnout,’ according to her family, who expressed their appreciation for the outpouring of support they’ve received in recent days. Initial reports claimed Brown went out with England footballer Raheem Stirling, but the family have dismissed that, saying they ‘don’t know where that came from.’ News of her death spread on Instagram with shocked friends and family leaving their condolences underneath recent pictures of the late star.

On This Day

  • 1844 – The Millerites (followers of Baptist preacher William Miller) anticipate the end of the world in conjunction with the Second Advent of Christ. The following day becomes known as the Great Disappointment.
  • 1910 – Hawley Harvey Crippen (the first felon to be arrested with the help of radio) is convicted of poisoning his wife.
  • 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy, after internal counsel from Dwight D. Eisenhower, announces that American reconnaissance planes have discovered Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that he has ordered a naval “quarantine” of the Communist nation.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Bob Odenkirk (61), Christopher Lloyd (85), Jeff Goldblum (71), Derek Jacobi (85), Catherine Deneuve (80), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (48), Kim Kardashian (43), Ken Watanabe (64), Doja Cat (28), Viggo Mortensen (65), Snoop Dogg (52), Rebecca Ferguson (40), John Lithgow (78), Zac Efron (36), Jean-Claude Van Damme (63), Pam Dawber (72), Felicity Jones (40), Michael McKean (76), Mark Gatiss (57), Eminem (51), George Wendt (75), and Tim Robbins (65).

Dead Pool 15th October 2023

Another week flies by, Michael Caine retired, and we all know what happens to active people when they retire…

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Mark Steel has been diagnosed with throat cancer, the stand-up comedian has revealed in a first-person piece published on Monday 9th October. Steel, 63, described the moment his diagnosis was confirmed as “one of the happiest moments in my life” as it preceded an agonising wait for his biopsy results that were initially “lost in transit”. He shared that, while the cancer had spread to his lymph glands, it is “very treatable” and no longer “as final as being beheaded”. Steel added he hopes to return to performing onstage in around six months, in an article first shared on his website. He wrote: “I’m writing this a few days from an operation that I hope will confirm the location of the cancer, from which a programme of treatment can begin. The current estimate is that I should be able to start performing again in about six months.” The English presenter recalled he first noticed how one side of his neck was “looking much bigger than the other” somewhere around the middle of June. “I Googled ‘Why is one side of my neck suddenly much larger than the other?’” he continued. “Most of the answers suggested there’s nothing to worry about “unless it hasn’t gone down after two weeks”. After two weeks I told myself it had sort of gone down, in that it was only a bit bigger.” After an initial consultation with his doctor, Steel was booked in for a scan before being advised to undergo a fine needle aspirational biopsy – as he grappled with the fear that “that’s how cancer starts”. He continued: “A few days later I had a phone appointment with a doctor. He asked if I’d suddenly lost weight, if I had night sweats, couldn’t swallow properly, was out of breath, had blood in my mouth, did I smoke, how much did I drink? These were unsubtle cancer questions, as obvious as a detective leaning towards you in a cell and asking if you have any evidence you were alone at home on the night of the murder.” After his biopsy, Steel was told its results would be shared in “around seven days”, with the podcast host growing more optimistic that the lump wasn’t cancer when he still hadn’t heard back from the doctor’s office in five days. “Several people had told me that if the results were ominous, I would hear quickly. So when five days passed, I felt confident. When it got to 12 days, I rang the hospital cheerily and was told the biopsy was still being checked,” he said. Shortly after, he was informed that the results of his biopsy had been “lost in transit” and he would need to undergo a repeat biopsy to determine what stage of cancer he has. “’Hang on,’ I said, ‘No one has said it’s definitely cancer, are you saying it’s definitely cancer?’ Steel asked a member of the hospital staff.’ After the biopsy was found at a different hospital, Steel learned he had secondary cancer – meaning he had cancer in two places. Eventually, he learned that the primary cancer is a lump in his throat, which he had initially discovered while shaving in June. “The results of the PET scan, the Rolls-Royce of scans, showed there was no cancer in me outside the neck and throat area, so there should be no reason why a combination of treatments wouldn’t cure it all,” he concluded, adding that “it’s a cancer that can be got rid off”.  

Sharon Osbourne has reminded her children of her and husband Ozzy Osbourne’s plan to die by assisted suicide, if their physical and mental health takes a severe decline. The former music manager, 71, initially discussed her end-of-life plans while promoting her 2007 memoir Survivor: My Story – The Next Chapter. In an interview at the time, Sharon said that she and Ozzy had come to the decision to visit a euthanasia facility in Switzerland, where the practice is legal. “Ozzy and I have absolutely come to the same decision,” she told the Flying Monkeys. “We believe 100 per cent in euthanasia so have drawn up plans to go to the assisted suicide flat in Switzerland if we ever have an illness that affects our brains. If Ozzy or I ever got Alzheimer’s, that’s it – we’d be off.” Sharon confirmed that their position on the matter hadn’t changed on the most recent episode of The Osbournes Podcast, hosted alongside Ozzy, 74, daughter Kelly, 38, and son Jack, 37. “Do you remember when Mum and Dad did that interview, talking about how they were gonna go and die through assisted suicide, and we were like ‘What the fuck is this?’” Kelly asked Jack. Jack replied: “They were like, ‘If we get terminally ill, we’re going to go to Switzerland and assisted suicide ourselves.’ Is that still the plan?” “Do you think that we’re gonna suffer?” Sharon asked, before laughing. To Jack’s proposal that “we’re already all suffering”, she continued: “Yes, we all are, but I don’t want it to actually hurt, as well. “Mental suffering is enough pain without physical. So if you’ve got mental and physical, see ya.” She then clarified that if she had the chance to live longer while struggling with mental and physical issues, she’d decide against it. “What if you survived and you can’t wipe your own ass, you’re pissing everywhere, shitting, can’t eat,” Sharon said. “So, what’s different about your life now?” Kelly joked. Sharon’s strong view on having an assisted death is largely influenced by watching her father, music manager Don Arden, suffer from Alzheimer’s disease before his death in 2007. Then, in 2014, Ozzy spoke of his desire to die by medically assisted suicide in the case of any “life-threatening condition.” “If I can’t live my life the way I’m living it now – and I don’t mean financially – then that’s it…Switzerland,” he told the Flying Monkeys. “If I can’t get up and go to the bathroom myself and I’ve got tubes up my ass and an enema in my throat, then I’ve said to Sharon, ‘Just turn the machine off.’ If I had a stroke and was paralysed, I don’t want to be here. I’ve made a will and it’s all going to Sharon if I die before her, so ultimately it will all go to the kids.”  

Dorothy Hoffner, a 104-year-old Chicago woman whose recent skydive could see her certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest person to ever jump from a plane, has died. Hoffner’s close friend, Joe Conant, said she was found dead on Monday morning by staff at the Brookdale Lake View senior living community. Conant said Hoffner apparently died in her sleep on Sunday night. Conant, who is a nurse, said he met Hoffner – whom he called Grandma at her request – several years ago while he was working as a caregiver for another resident at the senior living centre. He said she had amazing energy and remained mentally sharp. “She was indefatigable. She just kept going,” he said Tuesday. “She was not someone who would take naps in the afternoon, or not show up for any function, dinner or anything else. She was always there, fully present. She kept going, always.” On 1st October, Hoffner made a tandem skydive that could land her in the record books as the world’s oldest skydiver. She jumped out of a plane from 13,500ft at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, 85 miles southwest of Chicago. “Age is just a number,” Hoffner told a cheering crowd moments after landing. It was not her first time jumping from a plane – that happened when she was a spry 100 years of age. Conant said he was working through paperwork to ensure that Guinness World Records certifies Hoffner posthumously as the world’s oldest skydiver, but he expects that will take some time. The current record was set in May 2022 by 103-year-old Linnéa Ingegärd Larsson of Sweden. Conant said Hoffner didn’t skydive to break a record. He said she had so thoroughly enjoyed her first jump that she just wanted to do it again. “She had no intention of breaking the record. And she had no interest in any publicity or anything. She wasn’t doing it for any other reason than she wanted to go skydiving,” he said. Skydive Chicago and the United States Parachute Association celebrated Hoffner in a joint statement Tuesday. “We are deeply saddened by Dorothy’s passing and feel honoured to have been a part of making her world-record skydive a reality. Skydiving is an activity that many of us safely tuck away in our bucket lists. But Dorothy reminds us that it’s never too late to take the thrill of a lifetime. We are forever grateful that skydiving was a part of her exciting, well-lived life,” they said. Conant said Hoffner worked for more than four decades as a telephone operator with Illinois Bell, which later became AT&T, and retired 43 years ago. The lifelong Chicago resident never married, and Conant said she had no immediate family members.

On This Day

  • 1888 – The “From Hell” letter allegedly sent by Jack the Ripper is received by investigators. 
  • 1956 – FORTRAN, the first modern computer language, is first shared with the coding community. 
  • 1970 – During the construction of Australia’s West Gate Bridge, a span of the bridge falls and kills 35 workers. The incident is the country’s worst industrial accident to this day


  • 1917 – Mata Hari, Dutch dancer and spy (b. 1876). 
  • 1946 – Hermann Göring, German general and politician (b. 1893). 
  • 1964 – Cole Porter, American composer and songwriter (b. 1891). 
  • 2011 – Betty Driver, English actress, singer, and author (b. 1920). 
  • 2021 – David Amess, British politician, M.P. for Southend West (b. 1952). 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ncuti Gatwa (31), Dominic West (54), Lori Petty (60), Steve Coogan (58), Cliff Richard (83), Sacha Baron Cohen (52), Christopher Judge (59), Himesh Patel (33), Chris Carter (67), Paul Simon (82), Josh Hutcherson (31), Hugh Jackman (55), Hiroyuki Sanada (63), Les Dennis (69), Robin Askwith (73), Angela Rippon (78), Dan Stevens (41), Rose McIver (35), Charles Dance (77), Sarah Lancashire (59), Manu Bennett (54), Martin Kemp (62), Guillermo del Toro (59), Scott Bakula (69), Tony Shalhoub (70), Chris O’Dowd (44), Brandon Routh (44), Brian Blessed (87), Sharon Osbourne (71). 

Dead Pool 8th October 2023

Short and sweet this week, seeing that the notable deaths were a bit thin on the ground.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A man has appeared in court after an alleged plot to kidnap Holly Willoughby. Gavin Plumb, a 36-year-old man has been charged over an alleged plot to kidnap and murder the TV personality. On Friday Gavin Plumb, 36, of Potters Field, Harlow, had been charged with soliciting to commit murder and incitement to commit kidnap. Superintendent Tim Tubbs said: “This was an extremely fast paced investigation, with many of our officers and national partners working overnight to secure these charges. The safeguarding of any victim is paramount and we will continue to prioritise this as the investigation proceeds.” The star’s £3 million home in London is currently under police guard and she has reported to have been left “shocked and distraught” after learning she was the subject of dark messages that threatened to kidnap the mother-of-three. 

Kevin Spacey was rushed to hospital from a film festival in  Uzbekistan after he felt his entire left arm ‘go numb for about eight seconds’, it has emerged. The House of Cards star, 64, was feared to have suffered a heart attack but after undergoing a series of tests, including an MRI, was given the all-clear by doctors. He fell ill in the ancient city of Samarkand on Monday while on a tour of the Afrasiyab Museum and was rushed to the Innova Diagnostic Clinic where he was ‘treated professionally by doctors and staff’. Mr Spacey later returned to the Tashkent International Film Festival, appeared on stage and told the audience his health was ‘normal’. The Oscar-winning actor added that the incident ‘made me really take a moment and think about how fragile life is’. Mr Spacey talked about his ‘unexpected’ health scare during his speech at the festival’s closing ceremony on Monday, festival organisers revealed. ‘I was looking at these extraordinary murals on the walls and I suddenly felt my entire left arm go numb for about eight seconds,’ he told the crowd. ‘I shook it off, but I immediately told the people I was with and we went immediately to the medical centre.’ He shared how he spent the afternoon undergoing a ‘variety of tests’, adding that ultimately ‘everything turned out to be completely normal’. The actor said he is ‘grateful’ that it was not ‘anything more serious’, adding that he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ that Samarkand had ‘such qualified doctors’. ‘Human life is very fragile and short, so everyone should live together and support each other,’ he told the audience.

Lady Cathy Ferguson, the wife of the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the woman he called his “bedrock”, has died at the age of 84. A Glasgow native, Cathy Holding met her husband-to-be while they were working together in a typewriter factory in 1964. They were married two years later and went on to raise three children and 12 grandchildren over the course a relationship that endured for more than half a century. The Ferguson family confirmed the news in a statement released on Friday afternoon. “We are deeply saddened to confirm the passing yesterday of Lady Cathy Ferguson, survived by her husband, three sons, two sisters, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild,” the statement read. “The family asks for privacy at this time.” Lady Ferguson once said she had feared that the man who went on to become the most successful manager in the history of British football was a “thug” when she first met him, as he was sporting a plaster on his face due to a football injury. She also recalled their first date, a trip to the cinema and a gift of a box of liquorice allsorts “of which he ate all of them”. A Manchester United club statement said: “Everyone at Manchester United sends our heartfelt condolences to Sir Alex Ferguson and his family … Lady Cathy was a beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother, and a tower of strength for Sir Alex throughout his career.”

On This Day

  • 2005 – The 7.6 Mw  Kashmir earthquake leaves 86,000–87,351 people dead, 69,000–75,266 injured, and 2.8 million homeless.
  • 2014 – Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola, dies.
  • 2016 – In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the death toll rises to nearly 900.


  • 1967 – Clement Attlee, English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1883). 
  • 2002 – Phyllis Calvert, English actress (b. 1915).
  • 2015 – Jim Diamond, Scottish singer-songwriter (b. 1951).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Matt Damon (53), Sigourney Weaver (74), Chevy Chase (80), Kristanna Loken (44), Ardal O’Hanlon (58), Paul Hogan (84), R.L. Stine (80), Bruno Mars (38), Aaron & Shawn Ashmore (44), Simon Cowell (64), Tim Minchin (48), Elisabeth Shue (60), Emily Mortimer (52), Ioan Gruffudd (50), Britt Ekland (81), Kate Winslet (48), Guy Pearce (56), Karen Allen (72), Jesse Eisenberg (40), Diane Morgan (48), Clive Barker (71), Stephanie Cole (82), Neil deGrasse Tyson (65), Alicia Silverstone (47), Dakota Johnson (34), Susan Sarandon (77), Christoph Waltz (67), Melissa Benoist (35), Liev Schreiber (56), Nick Mohammed (43), Neve Campbell (50), Lena Headey (50), Clive Owen (59), Seann William Scott (47), Gwen Stefani (54), Tommy Lee (61), Lorraine Bracco (69), Avery Brooks (75), and Sting (72).

Dead Pool 1st October 2023

Last week brings us the passing of two great actors and a senseless felling of a wonderful tree. Plus some points to award! Well done Vic, 68 points for correctly guessing Michael Gambon would pass away this year. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sir Billy Connolly’s wife Pamela Stephenson has spoken out about the star’s health troubles, revealing the comic had ‘a couple of serious falls’ after they noticed his balance was deteriorating. Scottish comedian Sir Billy, 80, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a decade ago on the same day he found out he had prostate cancer, for which he was later given the all clear. The comic spoke about the degenerative disease and said: ‘It’s very difficult to see the progression exactly, because a lot of things come and go. Recently I’ve noticed a deterioration in my balance. That was never such a problem before, but in the last year that has come and it has stayed. For some reason, I thought it would go away, because a lot of symptoms have come and gone away … just to defy the symptom spotters. The shaking has reappeared…’ Pamela added: ‘The balance issue has been most significant, hasn’t it? Especially since, unfortunately, it resulted in you having a couple of serious falls …’ Sir Billy said he had a fall which reminded him of a joke he used to make on stay, explaining: ‘I used to say, “I fell out of bed, but luckily my face broke my fall…”‘ However, the funnyman admitted his falls add ‘to the list of things that hold me back’. He said he often wants to go for a walk but after 50 yards he feels tired and wants to return home, admitting he’s ‘being encroached upon by this disease’. ‘It’s creeping up behind me and stopping me doing things. It’s a cruel disease,’ he said. While Pamela said the disease has been ‘pretty slow-moving’, Sir Billy insists it ‘doesn’t make it any more pleasant’. The couple spoke about how their relationship has changed since the comedian was diagnosed and Sir Billy said that his wife now dresses him in the morning, mentioning that he has ask for lifts everywhere as he is unable to drive anymore. ‘I don’t let the Parkinson’s dictate who I am – I just get on with it. I’ve had a very successful career and I have no regrets at all.’  

Bob Mortimer will be absent from this Sunday’s episode of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing. In the forthcoming penultimate episode of series six, Mortimer, 64, calls his costar Paul Whitehouse, 65, to let him know that he can’t make the trip due to illness. In his place, Mortimer has arranged for fellow comedian Lee Mack, 55, to fill in. The fishing then takes place on the tidal outcrop of Burgh Island on the south coast of Devon. Gone Fishing follows the pair of comedians on various fishing trips around the UK as the pair discuss their respective heart problems. Mortimer had a triple heart bypass operation in 2015 after he was diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Whitehouse, who was also diagnosed with heart disease, has had three stents inserted to help widen his coronary arteries. The series was born when Whitehouse, who has known Mortimer for over 30 years, invited his longtime friend fishing to get him out of the house after his heart surgery. “That’s how we sold the show. We’ve got this show and we’ve both got heart disease, so with a bit of luck, the jeopardy is that one of us will drop dead on the riverbank, and that’s TV gold. So far it hasn’t happened. We keep dragging it out.”  

Sophia Loren has been rushed to hospital to undergo emergency surgery after suffering a bad fall at her home in Geneva, Switzerland. The Hollywood star, 89, was left with several fractures to her hip and and a series fractures to her femur after she fell in the bathroom of her home this weekend. Sophia’s sons, Carlo Jr., 55, and Edoardo, 50, have been by her side throughout the ordeal and her time in hospital. News about Sophia’s condition was shared by the team at her self-titled restaurant chain, who shared the news on their Instagram page. The statement read: ‘A fall at her home in Geneva today caused Ms Loren hip fractures. Operated with a positive outcome, she will now have to observe a short period of recovery and follow a road to rehabilitation. Thankfully everything worked out for the best and the Lady will be back with us very soon. The whole team at Sophia Loren Restaurant takes this opportunity to wish her a speedy recovery.’ The post announcing Sophia’s surgery news was flooded with support from her devoted fans, wishing the star a speedy recovery. Sophia had been due to open a fourth branch of her restaurant chain in Bari, Italy, on Tuesday. The Italian native was also due to receive honorary citizenship from the city. The events have been cancelled along with her other upcoming public engagements, according to the publication.  Sophia most recently appeared in the 2020 Netflix film The Life Ahead, directed by her son Edoardo, which won her a David di Donatello Award for best actress. Sophia plays a Holocaust survivor who bonds with a 12-year-old Nigerian immigrant. Speaking to Ew.com, she explained: ‘I love cinema so much. I want to keep doing it forever. I know it’s difficult to find good stories, but sometimes I fall in love with the right ones. I intend to make movies forever.’  Earlier this year, Sophia was named as one of the AFT 50 greatest movies of classical Hollywood cinema. She is the only living actress on the list.

On This Day

  • 1861 – Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is published, going on to sell 60,000 copies in its first year and remaining in print until the present day.
  • 1908 – Ford Model T automobiles are offered for sale at a price of $825.
  • 1964 – Japanese Shinkansen (“bullet trains”) begin high-speed rail service from Tokyo to Osaka. 60 years later, the UK are still struggling to complete HS2.
  • 1969 – Concorde breaks the sound barrier for the first time.
  • 1982 – Sony and Phillips launch the compact disc in Japan; on the same day, Sony releases the model CDP-101 compact disc player, the first player of its kind.
  • 1989 – Denmark introduces the world’s first legal same-sex registered partnerships.
  • 2017 – Fifty-eight people are killed and 869 others injured in a mass shooting at a country music festival at the Las Vegas Strip in the United States; the gunman, Stephen Paddock, later commits suicide.


  • 1985 – E. B. White, American essayist and journalist (b. 1899).
  • 2013 – Tom Clancy, American author (b. 1947).
  • 2014 – Lynsey de Paul, English singer-songwriter, pianist, and actress (b. 1948).

The Last Godfather

Ruthless mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro who spent 30 years on the run for allegedly murdering 50 people including a boy dissolved in acid has died of cancer aged 61 – eight months after he was captured by Italian police.

The mafia godfather, who once boasted he could ‘fill a cemetery with his victims’, was suffering from colon cancer when he was captured by armed police at a medical facility in Palermo, Sicily, in January. But his condition deteriorated in recent weeks and he was transferred to a hospital from the maximum-security prison in L’Aquila in central Italy where he was initially held.

Messina Denaro, dubbed the ‘last godfather’ of the notorious Cosa Nostra gang and nicknamed ‘The Devil’ following a string of brutal murders, died in the hospital, L’Aquila Mayor Pierluigi Biondi.

The mafioso had been forced into hiding 30 years ago after he ordered a series of deadly attacks, including the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, as well as a series of car bombs in Florence, Milan and Rome that left 10 people dead and 93 injured in 1993.

And children were not off limits for Messina Denaro. In the same year, ‘The Devil’ helped organise the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the mafia, prosecutors say. The boy was held in captivity for two years before he was brutally strangled to death and his body dissolved in acid.

L’Aquila Mayor Pierluigi Biondi confirmed the mobster’s death in hospital ‘following a worsening of his illness’ in a statement to the ANSA news agency, which had earlier broken the news. His death ‘puts the end to a story of violence and blood’, Biondi said, thanking prison and hospital staff for their ‘professionalism and humanity’. It was ‘the epilogue of an existence lived without remorse or repentance, a painful chapter of the recent history of our nation’. 

Denaro is not believed to have given any information to the police after he was seized outside a private health clinic in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, on January 16th. Denaro had requested no aggressive medical treatment, ANSA reported, adding that medics had stopped feeding him after he was declared to be in irreversible coma.

According to medical records leaked to the Italian media, he underwent surgery for colon cancer in 2020 and 2022 under a false name. A doctor at the Palermo clinic told La Repubblica newspaper that Messina Denaro’s health had worsened significantly in the months leading up to his capture.

Preparations are already under way for his burial in the family tomb in his hometown of Castelvetrano alongside his father, Don Ciccio, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Messina Denaro was captured in January when armed police swarmed the private medical facility in Palermo where he was undergoing treatment. The then 60-year-old had tried to outrun the police officers on foot and pushed his way through a series of hospital doors – but he only made it as far as a bar that was part of the same building where he had been seeing doctors for colon cancer checks. As the officers cornered the frail mafia boss, Messina Denaro meekly gave them his name before they bundled him into a waiting black minivan in front of shocked patients and medical staff.

The Mafia boss, who had not been seen in public for three decades, was pictured sitting in a police van wearing a brown leather shearling jacket, a white skull cap and his trademark tinted glasses shortly after his arrest.

A trigger man who once reportedly boasted he could ‘fill a cemetery’ with his victims, Messina Denaro was a leading figure in Cosa Nostra, the real-life Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in the Godfather movies. 

For a mafia boss who evaded arrest for over 30 years, it was his frequent visits to a private clinic that led to his arrest. Messina Denaro had been sitting in the private clinic waiting to see a doctor for colon cancer tests when he was surrounded and chased by a swarm of armed police officers. A member of staff who asked to remain anonymous told local media at the time: ‘He’d been coming here on and off for about a year. He’d had an operation a few months ago and was back for more tests and chemotherapy. When I turned up for work this morning at 6am it was all quiet and then he arrived to do his Covid test. A few minutes later a police officer wearing full body armour as if he was going to war came in and said he was looking for a patient. He said to remain calm and that armed officers were on every floor of the clinic. We had no idea who he was or what his background was. The guy actually managed to get out and ran into a local bar but they tracked him down and that’s when all hell broke loose.’ 

As news of his arrest spread across Palermo, local residents had emerged to applaud and shake the hands of the Italian paramilitary police officers involved in the operation. The residents were seen cheering and wiping away tears as they felt a wave of relief that Messina Denaro, who had coordinated years of terror in Italy, had finally been detained. 

Messina Denaro lived a playboy lifestyle. He was known for driving expensive cars and for having a taste for wearing finely tailored suits and Rolex watches. As a rising-star in the mafia in the 1980s, he dressed in designer brands Versace and Armani. His womanising ways raised eyebrows among the clans more conservative members. He fathered a daughter in 1995, which was seen as not being in keeping with Cosa Nostra’s more traditional family values.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Brie Larson (34), Rupert Friend (42), Julie Andrews (88), Zach Galifianakis (54), Randy Quaid (73), Larry Lamb (76), Monica Bellucci (59), Ezra Miller (31), Kieran Culkin (41), Omid Djalili (58), Al Leong (71), Zachary Levi (43), Ian McShane (81), Erika Eleniak (54), Mackenzie Crook (52), Matt & Luke Goss (55), Naomi Watts (55), Hilary Duff (36), Jeffrey Jones (77), Brigitte Bardot (89), Dita Von Teese (51), Bam Margera (44), Jenna Ortega (21), Gwyneth Paltrow (51), Indira Varma (50), Denis Lawson (76), Avril Lavigne (39), Linda Hamilton (67), Lysette Anthony (60), Ricky Tomlinson (84), Serena Williams (42), Will Smith (55), Catherine Zeta-Jones (54), Mark Hamill (72), Bella Ramsey (20), Michael Douglas (79), Michael Madsen (66), and Heather Locklear (62).

Dead Pool 24th September 2023

A quiet week for celebrity deaths, if it wasn’t for the whistling wonder that was Roger Whittaker passing away, the very brief list of deaths would be non-existent!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

National treasure Stephen Fry was reportedly rushed to hospital after falling “two metres” from the stage at the O2 in London, where he was delivering a speech on Artificial Intelligence. The Golden Globe-nominated actor, author and narrator, 66, was speaking on the final day of the CogX Festival technology conference when he took a tumble as he was exiting the stage. Eye witnesses claimed the Blackadder star fell two metres from the stage to the ground below and sustained injuries to his ribs and leg. He was then rushed to hospital for treatment. “It looked like it was too dark and there didn’t look like there was a handrail,” a source told the Flying Monkeys. “He looked to have been hurt as he had to leave in a wheelchair.” It is unclear whether Fry remains in hospital. A spokesperson for CogX told the Flying Monkeys: “We were deeply concerned to hear of Stephen’s accident after giving his inspirational speech on the impact of AI. We are thinking of him and wishing him a swift recovery. We have opened our own enquiry and until then we are not able to share any further details.” A spokesperson for Greenwich Council added: “The council has received an accident report following an event last week at the O2, and is considering whether any further investigations are needed.” 

Voyager singer Danny Estrin, whose band represented Australia in Eurovision this year, has been diagnosed with cancer. The 41-year-old musician co-founded the prog rock band in 1999, and has performed with them since. In 2023, Voyager placed ninth in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest with their final “Promise”. On Thursday morning, a statement was shared on the band’s social media where Estrin wrote that the band would be postponing their forthcoming European tour while he underwent “immediate treatment”. “Hi everyone, Danny here,” Estrin wrote. “Last week I was dealt some life-altering news: I’ve been diagnosed with cancer that requires immediate treatment… I am on strict doctors’ orders to not take this lightly, put my health first and get this sorted so we can be on stage again as soon as possible.” Estrin said that cancelling the tour had been “an extremely hard decision to make, but one that everyone will hopefully understand. Voyager will perform our last show for a while at the America’s Cup Event in Fremantle, Western Australia this Sunday, so come and party with us before I start treatment,” he continued. “In the coming weeks I will focus on my health and family and ask that everyone please respect our privacy. I truly value and appreciate everyone’s support and understanding during this time. I’m surrounded by my incredible bandmates and team who are navigating all things Voyager whilst I am out of action. Love, your fierce friend Danny!” 

A winemaker has been found dead face down in a huge vat of Prosecco after he passed out from toxic fermentation gas while rescuing a workmate. Heroic Marco Bettolini leapt into the tank when he saw co-worker Alberto Pin had fainted at the Ca’ di Rajo winery in the province of Treviso, in the Italian region Veneto, on Thursday last week. But Mr Bettolini was also quickly overcome by the same fumes and collapsed in the tank after rescuing his pal, local media reported. Both winemakers fell into the vat but only Mr Bettolini died. He was reportedly found dead at the bottom of the tank while Mr Pin was taken to hospital. Toxic fumes like carbon monoxide and nitrogen produced during winemaking can be deadly in enclosed spaces, especially when produced in large quantities. Neither man had been wearing an oxygen tank and respirator as the time of the incident, it emerged. Accident investigators believe Pin had entered the tank when he spotted a fault in one of the tank’s meters. An autopsy is set to determine whether Bettollini died from drowning or asphyxiation. Wineries generally have necessary ventilation systems that allow the toxic air to escape and prevent any serious incidents. Chief Prosecutor Marco Martani said: ‘From the information gathered so far by the police, no one should have entered that vat, as maintenance work is entrusted to an external specialised company equipped with masks and systems that would have prevented the risk of intoxication.’ The winery’s owner, Simone Cecchetto, expressed their condolences, adding: ‘We are devastated by grief; for us, they are like two brothers, two sons. My thoughts are only with these young men who grew up with us and their families. We pray that Alberto recovers as soon as possible.’ Pin remains in hospital in an intensive care unit. The investigation is ongoing. The local Health Authority is also examining the case. 

A legendary Merseyside comedian who became a household name in the industry has died aged 95. Born in 1927, Stevie Faye grew up in Dingle and like many other local comedians of his time found fame on talent TV shows The Comedians and Opportunity Knocks. In the 1980s Stevie also starred in BBC’s Boys from the Blackstuff.  A household name who rubbed shoulders with big names across the industry, the stand-up comic prided himself on his “clean material” and drew crowds when he performed on stages across the country. Upon his retirement, told the Flying Monkeys: “I am proud that I never told a dirty joke. I have gone down well in places like Glasgow and prisons; it just shows you don’t have to use that sort of material. I will take a lot of memories with me and want to thank the audiences and all my friends in the business for their support.” Before his days in the spotlight, Stevie was an amateur boxer and had all kinds of jobs, from club kitchen porter to candle worker stints in Llandudno. But he became a household name thanks to one show in particular and previously thanked producer of The Comedians Johnny Hamp for his start in show-business and giving other local comedians their television debuts.

On This Day

  • 1929 – Jimmy Doolittle performs the first flight without a window, proving that full instrument flying from take off to landing is possible.
  • 1960 – USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is launched.
  • 2015 – At least 1,100 people are killed and another 934 wounded after a stampede during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.


  • 1945 – Hans Geiger, German physicist & academic, co-invented the Geiger counter (b. 1882).
  • 1984 – Neil Hamilton, American actor (b. 1899).
  • 1991 – Dr. Seuss, American children’s book writer, poet, and illustrator (b. 1904).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Kevin Sorbo (65), Sven-Ole Thorsen (79), Anthony Mackie (45), Rosalind Chao (66), Karl Pilkington (51), Tom Felton (36), Billie Piper (41), Ruth Jones (57), Joan Jett (65), Nick Cave (66), Bill Murray (73), Stephen King (76), Luke Wilson (52), David Wenham (58), Alfonso Ribeiro (52), Ricki Lake (55), Jon Bernthal (47), Asia Argento (48), Moon Bloodgood (48), George R.R. Martin (75), Danielle Panabaker (36), Jeremy Irons (75), David McCallum (90), Jimmy Fallon (49), Twiggy (74), Christina Chong (40), James Marsden (50), Jason Sudeikis (48), Jada Pinkett Smith (52), Babs Olusanmokun (39), Keeley Hazell (37), Tim McInnerny (67), and Adeel Akhtar (43).

Dead Pool 17th September 2023

A relatively quiet week for us which included the sad passing of Maddy Anholt at the age of 35 to brain cancer.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sum 41 singer Deryck Whibley has been admitted to hospital with pneumonia, his wife has told fans. In a post shared on Instagram on Friday, Ariana Cooper Whibley – who has been married to the “In Too Deep” rocker for eight years – updated fans on Whibley’s health. Posting two photos, one showing the 43-year-old being stretchered into an ambulance and the other of his hand wearing a medical bracelet, Cooper Whibley explained that the incident had occurred on their wedding anniversary. “ Deryck and I were suppose to be in Chicago right now, celebrating our eight year wedding anniversary but the universe had a different plan for us,” the model wrote. “We spent the entire night in the ER and will now be spending the next few days here in the hospital as he fights through pneumonia. The scariest part is that there is a lot of strain on his heart and they are telling us that there is a possibility of heart failure.” She continued: “This is obviously not our first time in a situation like this but it brings back a lot of really difficult memories seeing him back in a hospital bed connected to wires and IVs. I know how strong he is because I have witnessed what he has been able to overcome but that doesn’t make it any easier to see. I’ll do my best to keep everyone updated but if you could keep him in your heart over the next few days, we could really use it.” Whibley, who is a founding member of Sum 41, has suffered a number of health issues over the last decade. In 2013, Cooper Whibley rushed the Canadian musician to hospital after he collapsed in his kitchen. There, he learnt that his liver and kidney had failed due to alcohol abuse. He was placed in a coma for a week and has been sober since. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys, Whibley said that he had been “very touch and go” in hospital and had “almost died”.  

Chris Evans has shared a positive update on his health, after it was reported he was diagnosed with skin cancer last month. In August, the DJ revealed that doctors had discovered a malignant melanoma on his leg, during a live appearance on his Virgin Media radio show. “We need to discuss what’s going on with this issue. It is a melanoma,” Evans, 57, told listeners. “There’s this phrase called a malignant melanoma – you know once you get something and you find out all about it – that is a redundant phrase because if it is a melanoma, it is malignant.” On Thursday, the presenter revealed that the procedure to remove the melanoma mole had been successful by posting a picture of his healing leg on social media. The image shows Evans’s calf on an operating table, with the site where the melanoma was previously visible now replaced by stitched-up skin. “And that’s a W.R.A.P,” his caption began, adding that he was celebrating with a “cuzza” – a curry – and a non-alcoholic beer. Evans ended his message with: “#getyourselfchecked/checkafriend Peace&Love people. HAPPY THURSDAY”. Evans has spoken about his health publicly on several occasions throughout his career. In 2009, he had a skin cancer scare and spoke at the time about visiting the doctor to investigate some unusual marks he’d discovered on his body around Christmas. In 2011, he spoke about undergoing his first colonoscopy due to instances of cancer in his family. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys, he revealed that some pre-cancerous “nasties” were discovered and removed. “The doctor said the only thing I could have done wrong was not come to see him,” Evans added. Then, in 2015, Evans had a prostate cancer scare but was given the all-clear. 

On This Day

  • 1908 – The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashes, killing Selfridge, who becomes the first airplane fatality.
  • 1976 – The Space Shuttle Enterprise is unveiled by NASA.
  • 2001 – The New York Stock Exchange reopens for trading after the September 11 attacks, the longest closure since the Great Depression.


  • 1985 – Laura Ashley, Welsh fashion designer, founded Laura Ashley plc (b. 1925).
  • 1999 – Frankie Vaughan, English singer and actor (b. 1928).
  • 2020 – Robert W. Gore, American engineer and businessman, co-inventor of Gore-Tex (b. 1937).

 New Dimensions of Reality

Cardiac arrest patients may experience “new dimensions of reality” once they are revived by performing CPR up to an hour after their hearts stop, suggests a new study.

Recent research on the brain activity of dying people has shed light on the dream-like state some individuals appear to experience before they expire. These studies, including one published in February last year, seem to provide explanations for reports of people vividly recalling their lives in near-death experiences.

Now, a new study, published in the journal Resuscitation, adds more evidence that people may experience life’s memories flash before their eyes during the near-death experience following cardiac arrest.

The research, led by those from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, assessed reports from survivors of cardiac arrest who described lucid death experiences that occurred while they were seemingly unconscious. 

Fewer than 10 per cent of the 567 patients studied, who received CPR in the hospital, recovered sufficiently to be discharged, scientists said. Four in 10 patients who survived, however, recalled some degree of consciousness during CPR that could not be captured by standard measures. In a subset of these patients, about 40 per cent had brain activity that almost returned to normal from a “flatline” state at points even an hour into CPR. 

EEG scans of these patients reveal gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta brain waves associated with higher mental function, indicating they may be having a recall of memories. 

Cardiac arrest survivors have long recalled having heightened awareness and powerful, lucid experiences.

In popular literature, this has included “out of body” experiences, observing events without pain or distress, as well as a meaningful evaluation of their past actions and relationships.

The new study finds these experiences of death could be different from hallucinations, delusions, illusions, dreams or CPR-induced consciousness.

Researchers suspect the brain’s processes in such people during this state may be opening access to “new dimensions of reality”, including a lucid recall of all stored memories from early childhood to death.

These new dimensions, according to the study, include experiences of people’s deeper consciousness such as all their memories, thoughts, intentions and actions towards others “from a moral and ethical perspective”.

The latest findings, according to scientists, “opens the door to a systematic exploration of what happens when a person dies”.

“Although doctors have long thought that the brain suffers permanent damage about 10 minutes after the heart stops supplying it with oxygen, our work found that the brain can show signs of electrical recovery long into ongoing CPR,” said study author Sam Parnia from NYU. “This is the first large study to show that these recollections and brain wave changes may be signs of universal, shared elements of so-called near-death experiences,” Dr Parnia said.

These near-death experiences can provide a glimpse into a real, yet little-understood dimension of human consciousness that becomes uncovered with death. 

Researchers said such experiences may also guide the design of new ways to restart the heart or prevent brain injuries and also hold implications for transplantation, raising questions related to the timing of organ donation.

However, scientists agree that research until now has “neither proved nor disproved” the meaning of patients’ experiences and claims of awareness in relation to death. 

They called for further studies on the recalled experience surrounding death and the need to further study psychological outcomes emerging out of cardiac arrest as part of the broader post-intensive care syndrome.

“The recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine empirical investigation without prejudice,” scientists wrote in the study.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ella Purnell (27), Cassandra Peterson (72), Bruce Spence (78), Mickey Rourke (71), Jennifer Tilly (65), Madeline Zima (38), Amy Poehler (52), Nick Jonas (31), Danny John-Jules (63), Tom Hardy (46), Tommy Lee Jones (77), Oliver Stone (77), John Bradley (35), Brendan O’Carroll (68), Prince Harry (39), Sam Neill (76), Andrew Lincoln (50), Lolly Adefope (33), Walter Koenig (87), Alfie Allen (37), Linda Gray (83), Tyler Hoechlin (36), Virginia Madsen (62), Roxann Dawson (65), Elizabeth Henstridge (36), and Johnny Vegas (52).

Dead Pool 10th September 2023

This  week saw us saying Auf wiedersehen to Joe Fagin amongst others, however nobody has scored any points. After last weeks epic newsletter, this weeks is a bit shorter, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered 🤣

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Britain’s longest-serving newsreader Alastair Stewart has revealed he has been diagnosed with dementia. The 71-year-old news anchor announced his retirement in March after spending 47 years working as a journalist on local and national television in the UK. Speaking on GB News this morning, he explained that ‘very short-term memory is tricky’ and that ‘motor skills are very tricky’. He admitted that around ‘six to nine months’ ago he began to feel ‘discombobulated’, prompting his decision to step back from presenting. Alastair’s concerns led him to contact his GP and relayed his fears that he may have early-onset dementia. After having scans at the doctors, he discovered he had suffered a series of strokes and was diagnosed with the disease. The presenter acknowledged that the disease is “incurable” but he is taking numerous steps to try and alleviate the condition. Alastair revealed he’d stopped smoking and is taking his dogs out on longer walks as well as taking on word puzzles to keep the brain active. The presenter said the thing has has “found most difficult to deal with” is seeing his wife being “reduced to a carer”. “I find it tricky, because your health through no fault of your own is reducing this person who is the single most important person in your life to the role of a carer. And so if you do think there is something wrong with you, then go and see the GP and listen to what he or she says but also do remember that the people you work with and the people you live with and share your life with are the most important people in the entire world.”  

Supermodel Linda Evangelista has revealed that she has been secretly treated for breast cancer over the past year, and that it’s the second time she’s been diagnosed with the illness. The Canadian beauty told us that she underwent a bilateral mastectomy after an annual mammogram detected the cancer in December 2018. She thought she “was good and set for life”, she explained, but last July she discovered a new lump on her chest, leading her to declare: “I’m not dying from this”. Now, she says, her prognosis is “good” having undergone more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. On her cancer prognosis being “good” but not “great” moving forward, she said: “I know I have one foot in the grave, but I’m totally in celebration mode. Only a handful of people knew,” she added. “And I’m just not one of those people who has to share everything. I thought to myself, ‘I will share this one day but while I am going through it, absolutely not’. I don’t want the Daily Mail waiting outside my door like they do every time something happens.” 

On This Day

  • 1961 – In the Italian Grand Prix, a crash causes the death of German Formula One driver Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators who are hit by his Ferrari, the deadliest accident in F1 history.
  • 1977 – Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.
  • 2001 – During his appearance on the British TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, contestant Charles Ingram reaches the £1 million top prize, but it was later revealed that he had cheated to the top prize by listening to coughs from his wife and another contestant.
  • 2008 – The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland. The world didn’t end.
  • 2022 –King Charles III is formally proclaimed as monarch at a meeting of the Accession Council in St James’s Palace.


  • 1938 – Charles Cruft, English businessman, founded Crufts (b. 1852).
  • 2007 – Anita Roddick, English businesswoman, founded The Body Shop (b. 1942).
  • 2014 – Richard Kiel, American actor (b. 1939).
  • 2020 – Diana Rigg, British actress (b. 1938).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Guy Ritchie (55), Colin Firth (63), Adam Sandler (57), Hugh Grant (63), Henry Thomas (52), Jeffrey Combs (69), Eric Stonestreet (52), Julia Sawalha (55), Martin Freeman (52), Gaten Matarazzo (21), Heather Thomas (66), Pink (44), Rachel Hunter (54), Miles Jupp (44), Evan Rachel Wood (36), Toby Jones (57), Julie Kavner (73), Doug Bradley (69), Freya Allan (22), Idris Elba (51), Michael Keaton (72), Rose McGowan (50), Carice van Houten (47), Paddy Considine (50), Bob Newhart (94), George Lazenby (84), Michael Berryman (75), Beyoncé (42), and Damon Wayans (63).

Dead Pool 3rd September 2023

We have a winner! With the passing of Mohamed Al-Fayed, Nickie scores 56 points! Well done her! Also my apologies, as this weeks edition has somewhat grown into epic proportions! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Elton John has been treated in hospital following a fall at his French riviera home. The 76-year-old singer was treated overnight for minor injuries at the orthopaedic department of Princess Grace hospital centre in Monaco, close to his home in Nice. A spokesman told the Flying Monkeys that the 76-year-old was admitted “following a slip yesterday at his home in the south of France”. He added: “Elton visited the local hospital as a precautionary measure. Following check-ups, he was immediately discharged this morning and his now back at home and in good health.” The I’m Still Standing singer has been in France this summer with his husband David Furnish and their two sons, having completed his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. 

A caterer who pretended to be a plastic surgeon has been arrested after performing a fatal penis enlargement on a ‘patient’. Torben K, a 46-year-old man from Solingen, Germany, administered silicone injections into the victim’s penis and scrotum area. He reportedly refused to disclose the type of silicone oil. The 32-year-old patient died from sepsis seven months after the procedure in July 2019. An investigation found that  Torben had no medical qualifications and previously carried out the same procedure on another man earlier in the year. Judges in Wuppertal District Court found Torben guilty of causing death by grievous bodily harm. The sister of the unnamed victim said her brother had doubts about the treatment but Torben convinced him to go ahead. He was said to experience breathing difficulties as soon as he returned home. The man reportedly visited several hospitals but later died of blood poisoning and liver and kidney failure. Speaking to local media, High State Prosecutor Wolf-Tilman Baumert said: “Unfortunately, the silicone oil ended up in the person’s bloodstream. This led to severe health complications and, eventually, to his death.” Torben claimed he had only done what the patient requested, to which Baumert responded: “The fact that the man asked for the treatment is irrelevant from our point of view. The defendant acted in a highly immoral manner.” Torben was jailed for five years, though the verdict is not yet legally binding.  

For the second time in just over a month, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze while speaking to reporters. At a press event in Covington, Kentucky, the 81-year-old paused for more than 30 seconds when asked whether he would run for-re-election in 2026. Aides attempted to prompt the senator, but it took several more seconds for Mr McConnell to recover. He then answered two more questions, which had to be repeated by staff. He made no comments about his health, before leaving with aides. “Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today,” a spokesperson said after the incident. A staffer later told the Flying Monkeys that the lawmaker “feels fine” but “will be consulting a physician prior to his next event”. Mr McConnell’s first verbal lapse occurred during a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington DC on 26th July. There, he paused mid-sentence for approximately 20 seconds, before being ushered away by his fellow Republican senators. He later returned and told reporters he was “fine” and had felt “lightheaded”. Mr McConnell, who leads the Republican party’s narrow minority in the upper chamber of Congress, was admitted to hospital for a week after suffering a concussion and a fractured rib following a fall outside a Washington area hotel in March. He was transferred to a rehabilitation facility and did not return to the Senate until mid-April. After the freezing incident in July, US media reported that Mr McConnell has endured at least three other falls since February. This latest episode will again raise questions about the health of the Kentucky senator heading into what will be a busy autumn legislative session. Concern over Mr McConnell’s health follows questions about the condition of 90-year-old California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was absent from the chamber for months after being diagnosed with a severe case of shingles. Unbelievably, the average age for members of the US Senate is 65!!!  

A Texas man known as “Polio Paul” has now spent more than 70 years living inside an iron lung. Paul Alexander contracted polio in 1952 when he was just 6 years old, just three years before the vaccine was invented. As polio attacks motor neurons in the spinal cord, Alexander was left paralysed from the neck down and was unable to breathe without assistance. Alexander was named as the longest-running iron lung patient by the Guinness World Records earlier in 2023. Alexander underwent an emergency tracheostomy after his diagnosis and was placed into an iron lung, an airtight machine that covers the entire body except for the head and allows the patient to breathe by using negative pressure to draw in oxygen and expand their lungs. For the most part, iron lungs are no longer in use and have not been manufactured since the 1960s due to more modern technology, but Alexander plans to stick with the machine due to its familiarity and because he does not want to undergo the procedures necessary to use more modern treatments. Instead, he learned a technique called “frog breathing,” where he uses the throat muscles to swallow oxygen and push the air into his lungs, enabling him to breathe outside of the iron lung. The technique allowed Alexander to live for a couple of hours at a time outside of the iron lung. He completed high school and graduated from college and law school, practicing law for several decades. He has outlived his parents, his older brother Nick, and several of his friends. Polio was eradicated from the United States in 1979. The World Health Organization declared that the western Pacific region and all of the Americas were polio-free by the year 2000. Now, there are only several dozens of cases in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.    

With unconfirmed reports of his death, the man known as “Purple Aki” who slowly gained notoriety in the North-West of England and became an urban legend for his strange compulsion’s, may be dead! Akinwale Arobieke’s notoriety began throughout the 80s, Aki had been seen stalking young rugby players, asking to touch their muscles to pose for him and even offering exercise advice. While this appeared harmless and humorous to start, it quickly turned sinister, after several incidents where Aki reportedly prayed on both teens and professional rugby players alike. For those growing up in the Northwest of England in the 1990s, ‘Purple Aki’ became an urban legend, where teenagers would share stories of a man who’d ask to feel your muscles. Aki was often seen travelling between northern train stations with his signature plastic bag in hand and soon Aki became little more than the butt of an inside joke across Liverpool, Manchester, and North Wales. Aki would occasionally resurface in local papers after various encounters with the law. In 2006, he was banned from touching, feeling and measuring muscles, and asking strangers to perform squats for him. Aki spent a lot of time in and out of prison due to his compulsions, having been charged and convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a young man he was pursuing died trying to escape from him. In 2010, Aki was arrested and sentenced to two and a half years for touching a 16-year-old boy’s muscles, then the judge referred to him as a “sexual predator”. The name Purple Aki is a name for someone who has been categorised as a ‘nonce’, which is a slang word for ‘paedophile’, according to the urban dictionary. However, for Purple Aki, it is believed to be referring to his dark skin tone.

On This Day

  • 1883 – Eruption of Krakatoa: Four enormous explosions almost completely destroy the island of Krakatoa and cause years of climate change.
  • 1893 – The Sea Islands hurricane strikes the United States near Savannah, Georgia, killing between 1,000 and 2,000 people.
  • 1955 – The first edition of the Guinness Book of Records is published in Great Britain.
  • 1956 – The nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the United Kingdom was connected to the national power grid becoming the world’s first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.
  • 1979 – The Troubles: An IRA bomb kills British royal family member Lord Mountbatten and three others on his boat at Mullaghmore, Republic of Ireland.


Whole Life Orders

The worst child serial killer in modern British history, Lucy Letby, has been sentenced to a whole life term in prison. Just three other women have ever received whole-life tariffs – Myra Hindley, Rosemary West and Joanna Dennehy.

The sentence means the former neonatal nurse, who was found guilty of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more, has no chance of parole and will die in prison. Others to receive such a sentence include some of the most infamous killers in criminal history.

Home secretaries have had the power to impose whole-life orders since 1983. Judges were then given the power by the Criminal Justice Act in 2003. Since then it has been judges who have passed such sentences. Currently there are 75 prisoners serving whole-life sentences in the UK, lets take a look at a few… 

David Fuller: In 2021 former hospital worker David Fuller received two whole-life tariffs for murdering Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in 1987. He had also been sentenced for sexual offences against the corpses of 78 dead women and girls between 2008 and 2020. Fuller abused female corpses over a 13-year period at hospitals in Kent and Sussex. 

Wayne Couzens: Met Police officer Couzens murdered Sarah Everard, 33, after kidnapping her under the guise of an arrest. He abducted her as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London in 2021. Couzens admitted murder, kidnap and rape. In 2022 he lost an attempt to overturn his whole-life term. 

Damien Bendall: Bendall used a claw hammer to kill his daughter Lacey, 11, her brother John, 13, their pregnant mum Terri, 35, and friend Connie, 11, at their home in Derbyshire. He admitted the murders as well as raping Lacey. After calling police to tell them he had murdered four people, he met them outside the home to ask for a cigarette. He was given a whole-life tariff in 2022. 

Robert Maudsley: Also known as Hannibal the Cannibal, has been in jail since he was 21, after he was found guilty of murdering convicted child molester John Farrell in 1974. Following his imprisonment he killed three inmates. Initial reports claimed Maudsley ate part of the brain of a man he killed in prison, but a post-mortem report found the allegation was untrue, although it still led to the Hannibal nickname. He has spent more than 16,500 consecutive days in isolation, which the Flying Monkeys described as a world record. 

Arthur Hutchinson: Hutchinson crashed a wedding reception in 1983 and murdered the bride’s father, mother and brother, before raping her sister at knifepoint. He was issued with a whole-life tariff by Home Secretary Leon Brittan. 

Rosemary West: In 1995, Rose West was convicted of the murder of ten women and girls at her home in Gloucester. The victims included one of her daughters and a step-daughter. Her husband Fred West committed suicide in jail before he could stand trial for 12 murders. 

Mark Hobson: In 2004, Hobson murdered his girlfriend at their home before luring her twin there and killing her too. He fled, then killed an elderly couple a few miles away before going on the run. He was given a whole-life tariff in 2005. 

‘Suffolk Strangler’ – Steve Wright: Wright was handed a whole-life prison term in 2008 after being found guilty of murdering five prostitutes in the Ipswich area during December 2006.  

‘The Bus Stop Stalker’ – Levi Bellfield: Now calls himself Yusuf Rahim, received a whole-life sentence in 2008 for murdering two young women and the attempted murder of another in random night-time attacks. In 2011 he became the first person to receive two whole-life sentences, after being found guilty of the 2002 murder of 13-year-old Milly Dowler. He was also linked to the murder of Lin and Megan Russell. 

‘Crossbow Cannibal’ – Stephen Griffiths: Griffiths was convicted of murdering three woman in Bradford. One of the killings involved a crossbow. He dismembered his victims and dumped their remains. He also claimed to have cannibalised them, though this was never proven. Griffiths was sentenced to a whole-life term in 2010. 

‘The Bullseye Killer’ – John Cooper: Cooper was given four life sentences in 2011 for the double murder of brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas, and the 1989 double murder of married couple Peter and Gwenda Dixon. Cooper shot the Thomases at their remote mansion near Milford Haven in 1985. And in 1989, he shot the Dixons at close range as they strolled along the Pembrokeshire coastal path near Little Haven. For nearly three decades, their murders were left unsolved before a cold-case review brought Cooper to justice. He earned his nickname ‘The Bullseye Killer’ after appearing on the ITV darts-based quiz show hosted by Jim Bowen. 

Dale Cregan: Cregan killed police officers Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, while on the run for two other murders. He was given a whole-life order in 2013. 

Mark Bridger: Five-year-old April Jones was abducted and killed in 2012 by paedophile Mark Bridger, who was jailed for life the following year. She had been playing on her bike outside her home on the Bryn-y-Gog estate in Machynlleth when she was snatched by the killer. Her body has never been found. 

Jamie Reynolds: Pornography-obsessed Jamie Reynolds hanged 17-year-old Georgia Williams before filming himself carrying out sexual acts on her lifeless body in May 2013 in Shropshire. He dumped her body in Wrexham and went on the run but was caught by police. Reynolds had previously tried to strangle a girl but had only been given a police caution.

Michael Adebolajo & Michael Adebowale: The murderers of soldier Lee Rigby in south-east London 2013. They spotted Lee wearing a Help for Heroes hoodie and mowed him down in their car. They then jumped out and attacked him with knives and a meat cleaver, near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. Religious extremist Adebolajo tried to behead the ­fusilier. He was given a whole-life sentence, while Adebowale was sentenced to a minimum jail term of 45 years. 

Joanna Dennehy: She’s serving a whole-life sentence for the killing of three men in the space of 10 days in 2014. She was later reported to have described herself as a “fully committed psychopath” to her prison fiancée. 

Thomas Mair: Mair was convicted of murdering Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016. The MP for Batley and Spen was on her way to meet constituents at a routine surgery when Mair shot and stabbed her. A judge said he had no doubt Mair murdered Cox to advance a cause of violent white supremacism. 

Arthur Simpson-Kent: Brutally killed former EastEnders actress Sian Blake, 43, and their children, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, after finding out she planned to leave him. In 2016 he was given a whole-life sentence after he pleaded guilty to the murders. 

‘The Grindr Killer’ – Stephen Port: Serial killer Port was given a whole-life sentence in 2016 after he drugged, raped and killed four gay men in east London. He had met his victims on the gay dating app Grindr. He was also convicted of raping four others. 

Leroy Campbell: Despite being jailed for attacking three women and being assessed as having “lifelong risk factors”, Campbell was released from prison in 2016 and four months later raped and killed Lisa Skidmore. He was handed a whole-life sentence after pleading guilty to murder, attempted murder, rape and arson with intent. 

John Taylor: Taylor was jailed for a minimum of 30 years for the 2000 murder of schoolgirl Leanne Tiernan. He is thought to have stored her body in a freezer for nine months before dumping it in woodland. Taylor was subsequently linked to a string of historic sex attacks in Leeds from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, which he admitted. He was handed a whole-life sentence in 2018.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Aaron Paul (44), Peter Stormare (70), Reece Shearsmith (54), Peter Mensah (64), Chris Pine (43), Melissa McCarthy (53), Macaulay Culkin (43), Alexander Skarsgård (47), Blake Lively (36), Tim Burton (65), Rachel Bilson (42), Joanne Whalley (62), Tom Skerritt (90), Gene Simmons (74), Billy Ray Cyrus (62), Jared Harris (62), Stephen Fry (66), Rupert Grint (35), Steve Guttenberg (65), Dave Chappelle (50), Ray Park (49), Charley Boorman (57), Dua Lipa (28), Kristen Wiig (50), Richard Armitage (52), Ty Burrell (56), James Corden (45), Alicia Witt (48), Kim Cattrall (67), Hayden Panettiere (34), Carrie-Anne Moss (56), and RJ Mitte (31).

Dead Pool 27th August 2023

Welcome again to another edition of the newsletter, and this week we are dispensing a whole lot of points! Mark, Laura and Dave each score 51 points with the passing of Bob Barker, well done them! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Radio presenter Chris Evans has announced live on air that he has been diagnosed with skin cancer. Evans, 57, revealed on his Virgin Radio show on Monday morning that his doctors broke the news to him just recently. However, he reassured listeners that the disease was discovered in its early stages and he is hopeful he will have a full recovery after he undergoes treatment next month. Evans said on his breakfast show: “We need to discuss what’s going on with this issue. It is a melanoma. There’s this phrase called a malignant melanoma – you know once you get something and you find out all about it – that is a redundant phrase because if it is a melanoma, it is malignant.” He added: “But it’s been caught so early, just so you know, that it should be completely treatable.” According to The Flying Monkeys, the broadcaster said his treatment is scheduled to begin on 14th September. Evans, who is a running enthusiast, joked that he won’t be able to run for “a month afterwards”, adding: “So I’m going to do nothing but run until then. Is that OK?” He previously had a cancer scare in 2019 and revealed at the time he took a skin cancer test after finding unusual marks on his body before Christmas. That year, the radio presenter said: “I went and had a few marks on my body inspected by a skin expert before Christmas and she said. ‘You need to come and see me again, just because of your complexion’. The expert advised him to get checked once a year. Evans has also previously had a prostate cancer scare in 2015, but received the all-clear from his doctors. In 2011, he spoke about undergoing his first colonoscopy exam due to his family having a history of cancer. He told the Flying Monkeys at the time that he had gone for a routine check-up, during which doctors found “some nasties up there” and removed them. “They were pre-cancerous, not malignant – at least we don’t think so, they’ve been sent for a biopsy.

BBC Radio 2 DJ Tony Blackburn has finally opened up about his terrifying health battle after spending two months in hospital this year. He initially thought he had a chest infection but it was in fact pneumonia, which saw him pull out of his popular Sound of the 60s Tour and Radio 2 show earlier this year. He has shared just how serious his hospital stay was. The DJ was in fact suffering from sepsis, pneumonia and blood poisoning. Tony, 80, has said he has only just recovered, after being discharged from hospital in May. He still had to have daily injections upon his return home. According to the NHS, Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection that happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body’s own tissues and organs. Blackburn shared that he didn’t realise how unwell he was until his family gathered by his beside in hospital. He had been on tour before and after the pandemic with his music and chat show, confessing he overdid it and became ill. He said: “I was doing three a week at one time forgetting that I’m now a little bit older, so I ended up in hospital for two months with sepsis and pneumonia and blood poisoning.” Tony added: “And I didn’t realise how unwell I was until one day in the hospital my whole family were gathered around the bed. And I thought ‘this isn’t good’. A couple of weeks ago I went to see my specialist and he said ‘you are cured’, so that was a nice thing to hear.” Following his hospital stay, Tony has now returned to his tour but has limited himself to just one show each week. He said: “I haven’t been doing the show for about three months because I was told to rest a little bit. Now I’m back in form and we’re selling out. Instead of doing three a week I’m just going to do one a week.” Tony has also made his return to Radio 2 after Johnnie Walker filled in for him. In April, Tony also revealed he would have to reschedule his tour, as he required more treatment than he initially thought. He told his fans: “I wanted to give a little update on my health and let you know that I won’t be on the radio or in theatres for a little while yet. The infection I have is requiring more treatment than initially thought and it means I am having to reschedule the Sounds of the 60s Tour for the moment in order to recover fully.  He said: “I hope to be back on the radio as soon as possible but it might be a few weeks before I am able to get back in the studio. As you know, I am passionate about my radio shows and I will be back as quickly as I safely can. I want to thank all of the listeners who have sent their well-wishes and messages of support. I do read them all and it really means a lot.”

On This Day

  • 1883 – Eruption of Krakatoa: Four enormous explosions almost completely destroy the island of Krakatoa and cause years of climate change.
  • 1893 – The Sea Islands hurricane strikes the United States near Savannah, Georgia, killing between 1,000 and 2,000 people.
  • 1955 – The first edition of the Guinness Book of Records is published in Great Britain.
  • 1956 – The nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the United Kingdom was connected to the national power grid becoming the world’s first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.
  • 1979 – The Troubles: An IRA bomb kills British royal family member Lord Mountbatten and three others on his boat at Mullaghmore, Republic of Ireland.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Aaron Paul (44), Peter Stormare (70), Reece Shearsmith (54), Peter Mensah (64), Chris Pine (43), Melissa McCarthy (53), Macaulay Culkin (43), Alexander Skarsgård (47), Blake Lively (36), Tim Burton (65), Rachel Bilson (42), Joanne Whalley (62), Tom Skerritt (90), Gene Simmons (74), Billy Ray Cyrus (62), Jared Harris (62), Stephen Fry (66), Rupert Grint (35), Steve Guttenberg (65), Dave Chappelle (50), Ray Park (49), Charley Boorman (57), Dua Lipa (28), Kristen Wiig (50), Richard Armitage (52), Ty Burrell (56), James Corden (45), Alicia Witt (48), Kim Cattrall (67), Hayden Panettiere (34), Carrie-Anne Moss (56), and RJ Mitte (31).

Dead Pool 20th August 2023

Like him or hate him, the big one last week was Michael Parkinson. Surprisingly, nobody  had him listed, so sadly no points to award. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen has cancelled two upcoming concerts after being “taken ill”. A statement on his Instagram account said two concerts with the E Street Band in Philadelphia last night and tomorrow have been “postponed”. The nature of his illness was not disclosed. The 73-year-old was due to play with his American rock band at the Citizens Bank Park stadium. “We are working on rescheduling the dates, so please hold on to your tickets as they will be valid for the rescheduled shows,” it added. Even at 73, he’s one of the hardest-working men in show business. The Born In The USA musician embarked on a mammoth tour, including 59 dates in North America and 31 in Europe totalling an impressive 90 shows—his first tour in six years. Earlier in the year, The Boss took a little tumble on stage while performing “Ghosts” in Amsterdam, but he quickly recovered. He got to his feet and joked “Goodnight, everybody!” Fans expressed their support and hope that The Boss would recover quickly. “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business needs a well-deserved rest,” commented one fan. Another wrote: “I think the Boss needs to rest that’s why he’s ill!!! Take care dear Boss!”  

On doctors’ orders, Sir David Jason will no longer be attending an upcoming Only Fools and Horses convention due to a scheduled operation. He has asked fans for their “cushty wishes” in a characteristically humorous statement about his health on Sunday. The 83-year-old said he was “very sorry for the disappointment”. He said in a statement on a Facebook supporter’s page: “Unfortunately I have just been advised I need a new bionic body part fitted. I won’t tell you which part it is, or you will all want one! And don’t worry it’s not being supplied by Monkey Harris, it’ll be the pukka gear. I really hope everyone will be able to make the new date (January 13th and 14th) and we can all have something cushty to look forward to!” Concluding the post, Del Boy added: “Hoping to be lovely jubbly when I meet you all in the new year.” A representative for David has since told the Flying Monkeys that his surgery will be a hip replacement. Last year, the actor was struck down by Covid-19 which resulted in his muscles not working properly. He said: “I collapsed and I fell against the radiator. I was so weak, I couldn’t get up. I tried for about a quarter of an hour, trying all sorts of things to stand up so I could walk about. But in order to do that, I had to use my head. So now I’m lying face down on the ground, and in order to get to the door – and the arms really weren’t working and the legs weren’t working – I was using my head to drag me to the door.” Back in 2017, the television veteran said he would never want to retire from acting.

On This Day

  • 1858 – Charles Darwin first publishes his theory of evolution through natural selection in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, alongside Alfred Russel Wallace‘s same theory.
  • 1940 – Exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe by Ramón Mercader. He dies the next day.
  • 1940 – World War II: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill makes the fourth of his famous wartime speeches, containing the line “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”.
  • 1977 – Voyager program: NASA launches the Voyager 2 spacecraft.
  • 1989 – The pleasure boat Marchioness sinks on the River Thames following a collision. Fifty-one people are killed.


  • 1982 – Ulla Jacobsson, Swedish actress (b. 1929)
  • 2013 – Elmore Leonard, American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter (b. 1925)
  • 2017 – Jerry Lewis, American actor and comedian (b. 1926)

What Killed the King of Rock & Roll? 

This week marks the sad anniversary of Elvis Presley’s tragic passing after he died on August 16th 1977, at the age of just 43. But mystery has shrouded the King of Rock and Roll’s death for almost 50 years after his family remained tight-lipped on the results of his autopsy.

The Jailhouse Rock singer, from Mississippi, was found face down on the bathroom floor of his Graceland home, where he appeared to have fallen from the toilet close by, with his pyjama bottoms around his ankles. In the years leading to his sudden death, his health had taken a dramatic hit, after years of drug abuse catching up with him combined with a diet of junk food.

The once slender and sporty star went on to weigh 25 stone as he spent months barricaded in his bedroom indulging in cheeseburger platters. His condition was so fraught that he was in need of a full-time nurse, and as he reportedly refused to bathe throughout 1975, and developed sores across his body. 

As a consequence of his high-fat, unhealthy diet, Elvis suffered from chronic constipation and a post-mortem examination found he had four-month-old compacted stool sitting in his bowel. The singer was also on a cocktail of drugs and had been prescribed almost 9,000 pills, vials and injections in the seven months before his death.

And it was his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, who found the rock and roll star’s body with his pyjama bottoms around his ankles and his bottom in the air. Of the distressing scene, Ginger, who was just 21 at the time, wrote in her memoir: “His arms lay on the ground, close to his sides, palms facing upward.

“It was clear that, from the moment he landed on the floor, Elvis hadn’t moved. I gently turned his face toward me. A hint of air expelled from his nose. The tip of his tongue was clenched between his teeth and his face was blotchy. I gently raised one eyelid. His eye was staring straight ahead and blood red.”

An autopsy was carried out that same day but the report was immediately sealed for 50 years by the family, sparking a slew of speculation as to what killed him. Dan Warlick, chief investigator for the Tennessee Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner, attended the autopsy and fuelled the popular theory that Elvis died while straining to go to the toilet.

He once said: “Presley’s chronic constipation – the result of years of prescription drug abuse and high-fat, high-cholesterol gorging – brought on what’s known as Valsalva’s manoeuvre. Put simply, the strain of attempting to defecate compressed the singer’s abdominal aorta, shutting down his heart.” 

Others claimed he’d died from a drug overdose, but when the investigation was reopened in 1994, coroner Joseph Davis disagreed. He explained: “The position of Elvis Presley’s body was such that he was about to sit down on the commode when the seizure occurred. He pitched forward onto the carpet, his rear in the air, and was dead by the time he hit the floor.

“If it had been a drug overdose, Elvis would have slipped into an increasing state of slumber. He would have pulled up his pajama bottoms and crawled to the door to seek help. It takes hours to die from drugs.” The autopsy results are due to be unlocked in 2027, but until then, the biggest insight into the star’s mysterious death has come from prominent California physician, Forest Tennant, who actually reviewed the report while defending Elvis’ doctor, Dr. George Nichopoulos, who was later acquitted of over-prescribing drugs.

For Mr Tennant, one major clue was in the full-body  deterioration of Elvis, with almost every organ plagued by ill health. As a young man, Elvis had been extremely fit, playing football and practising martial arts. He did start abusing drugs including amphetamines, opioids and sedatives as a teenager and is known to have had an appalling diet.

But for Tennant, that wasn’t enough to explain the long list of maladies that afflicted the rock star from the late 1960s onwards. First he complained of vertigo, back pain, and insomnia, eye infections and headaches, and in 1973 he was rushed to hospital in a semi-coma and found to be suffering from jaundice, severe respiratory distress, marked swelling of his face, distended abdomen, constipation, a gastric, bleeding ulcer and hepatitis.

He was hospitalised again in 1975 with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a condition called megacolon, whereby the large intestine becomes distended and can allow toxins to flood the body. He also had at least four near-death overdoses that left him unconscious and in need of resuscitation, and his heart was double the normal size. 

And despite having never smoked, he also suffered from emphysema. So what had caused all of these disease processes in his stomach, liver, lungs, heart, spine, eyes and bowel? Forest believes it all stemmed back to a serious head injury he sustained in 1967 that triggered a progressive autoimmune inflammatory disorder.

In his opinion, as shared in a 2013 medical paper, when Elvis tripped over a television cord and knocked himself out on the bathtub, the injury was so severe that it caused brain tissue to dislodge and seep into his blood circulation. There, the body identified the matter as foreign and produced antibodies to destroy it, triggering hypogammaglobulinemia, a disorder of the body’s immune system.

At the time, little was understood about auto-immune conditions, but these days they are known to cause most of the symptoms Elvis displayed, from chronic pain, irrational behaviour, obesity and enlarged and diseased organs like hearts and bowels. And in 2016 Garry Rodgers, a retired homicide detective and forensic coroner, told the Huffington Post that with those findings in mind, he would have attributed Elvis’ death to a heart attack caused by heart disease and drug use caused by an autoimmune disease which was sparked by a brain injury.

He said: “I’d have to classify Elvis’s death as an accident. There’s no one to blame – certainly not Elvis. He was a severely injured and ill man. There’s no specific negligence on anyone’s part and definitely no cover-up or conspiracy of a criminal act. If Dr. Forrest Torrent is right, there simply wasn’t a proper understanding back then in determining what really killed the King of Rock & Roll.”

Last Week’s Birthdays

Amy Adams (49), Andrew Garfield (40), Ke Huy Quan (52), Ben Barnes (42), James Marsters (61), Misha Collins (49), John Noble (75), Ray Wise (76), Demi Lovato (31), Sylvester McCoy (80), David Walliams (52), Matthew Perry (54), Jonathan Frakes (71), Kevin Dillon (58), Diana Muldaur (85), Jim Carter (75), Ian McElhinney (75), Simon Bird (39), Edward Norton (54), Robert Redford (87), Christian Slater (54), Roman Polanski (90), Madeleine Stowe (65), Denis Leary (66), Robert De Niro (80), Austin Butler (32), Sean Penn (63), Belinda Carlisle (65), Taika Waititi (48), Steve Carell (61), James Cameron (69), Angela Bassett (65), Julie Newmar (90), Madonna (65), Jennifer Lawrence (33), Ben Affleck (51), Natasha Henstridge (49), Jim Dale (88), Tony Robinson (77), Steve Martin (78), Mila Kunis (40), Halle Berry (57), and James Buckley (36).

Dead Pool 13th August 2023

Last week saw the passing of the director of The Exorcist and the singer/songwriter of the Cha Cha Slide. Sadly no points to award but plenty of news to catch up on.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

TV news presenter Nick Owen has revealed he has undergone surgery for prostate cancer. Owen, 75, well known for hosting shows including Good Morning Britain, said he had been diagnosed with the “extensive and aggressive” cancer in April, on “one of the worst” days of his life. “I was told that it was pretty serious and I had to do something about it soon,” he said. The BBC broadcaster is now urging other men to get tested. Owen, best known as a pioneer of breakfast TV and his partnership with Anne Diamond, said he had had no symptoms and the diagnosis had “come out of the blue”. He revealed he had had a prostate-specific antigen blood test which had shown slightly elevated results. “My GP insisted that I go and see a specialist just to reassure me… he saved my life,” he said. A scan had revealed “there was something dodgy going on”, he explained, “and then he sent me for a biopsy and it was the results of that that was the killer”. Owen said the date of the diagnosis, 13th April, would “forever be imprinted” on his mind. “He told me that it was extensive and aggressive and I had prostate cancer full-on and something needed to be done and done pretty fast,” he said. “And that was probably the worst day of my life, well certainly one of them, it was a very grim moment.” The broadcaster said it had been a “very difficult time” for him and his wife Vicki, who was “by my side all the time through this”. A scan before surgery had given him “a beacon of hope” as it showed the cancer was contained in the prostate and had not spread, the presenter said. Taking advice from specialist doctors, Owen said he had opted for a radical prostatectomy, which involves removing the whole prostate gland. The surgery was successful but he had been on a “pretty bumpy ride” afterwards, he said, and was supported throughout by Vicki. “She had to do a lot of things medically when I came home, to look after me, including having to give me an injection once a day for about a month – and she’s got no experience of that, I’ve certainly got no experience of doing it myself or having it done by a non medical professional,” he explained. “So that was one of the many ingredients which made it a tough time. “Although I’m not exactly myself at the moment, I do feel a lot more like it,” he said. “Thank god my GP said ‘we just need to get this checked’, because if he hadn’t, that ultimately would have been curtains I suppose,” he added. 

An Italian man has been crushed to death under thousands of wheels of a Parmesan-style cheese, authorities said. Giacomo Chiapparini, 74, was buried when a shelf broke in his warehouse in the Lombardy region on Sunday, firefighter Antonion Dusi told the Flying Monkeys. The collapse created a domino effect bringing down thousands of wheels, which weigh about 40kg each. It took 12 hours to find Mr Chiapparini’s body, Mr Dusi said. Some of the wheels reportedly fell about 10m and a local resident told Italian media the collapse sounded “like thunder”. The economic damage caused has been estimated at £6 million. Speaking to Italian media, a neighbour described Mr Chiapparini as “very supportive… and generous”. They also said he lost a child decades ago. The warehouse, located in Romano di Lombardia, about 31 miles east of Milan, contained a total of 25,000 wheels of Grana Padano, a hard cheese which resembles Parmesan and is popular in Italy.  

‘Influencer’ and rapper Lil Tay has confirmed she is alive after a post on her official verified Instagram account claimed that both she and her brother Jason Tian had ‘unexpectedly’ died. The 14-year-old controversial online star – who shot to fame at age nine after starring in a series of vulgar rap-style videos – has finally spoken out to shut down claims that she and her sibling had passed away, claiming that her Instagram account was ‘hacked.’ ‘I want to make it clear that my brother and I are safe and alive, but I’m completely heartbroken, and struggling to even find the right words to say,’ Lil Tay – who was born Claire Hope but has now confirmed her legal name is Tay Tian – told the Flying Monkeys more than 24 hours after the news of her alleged death first broke. ‘It’s been a very traumatising 24 hours. All day yesterday, I was bombarded with endless heartbreaking and tearful phone calls from loved ones all while trying to sort out this mess.’ The teenager – who hit the headlines back in 2018 amid claims she had been abused by her father Christopher Hope and exploited by her brother – neglected to reveal why she took more than 24 hours to confirm she is alive and well. Speaking about the post that sparked the death rumors, Tay insisted that her Instagram account ‘was compromised by a third party’ and ‘used to spread jarring misinformation and rumours’ about her.  

Tributes have been paid to a soldier believed to be the last Royal Navy veteran of the Dunkirk evacuation who has died aged 102. Lawrence Churcher was posted to HMS Eagle at the start of World War Two and landed in France in May 1940 to help get ammunition to the front lines. He had signed up for the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday in 1938 ‘to see the world and have a bit of fun, but Hitler ruined that’. Mr Churcher was sent to a railhead outside Dunkirk where the German Blitzkrieg forced the British Expeditionary Force troops back to the beaches. The retreat prompted the Allied forces to launch Operation Dynamo, the biggest evacuation in military history which saw more than 338,000 soldiers rescued with the help of civilian boats later known as the ‘little ships’. Mr Churcher died on Thursday at a care home in Fareham. His family said today in tribute: ‘Dad was short on words but we knew he loved us all very much, we are so proud of him and he will be eternally missed.’ Mr Churcher made frequent trips to Dunkirk to mark landmark anniversary commemorations. A spokesperson for Project 71, who support WW2 veterans, said: ‘To our knowledge Lawrence was the last Royal Navy veteran of Dunkirk. ‘A truly remarkable man, loved and respected by all who knew him.

On This Day

  • 1913 – First production in the UK of stainless steel by Harry Brearley.
  • 1964 – Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans are hanged for the murder of John Alan West becoming the last people executed in the United Kingdom.
  • 1969 – The Apollo 11 astronauts enjoy a ticker tape parade in New York City.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Debi Mazar (59), Sebastian Stan (41), Cara Delevingne (31), Bruce Greenwood (67), Jim Beaver (73), George Hamilton (84), Chris Hemsworth (40), Viola Davis (58), Anna Gunn (55), Ian McDiarmid (79), Hulk Hogan (70), Antonio Banderas (63), Rosanna Arquette (64), Bill Skarsgård (33), Ashley Johnson (40), Sam Elliott (79), Anna Kendrick (38), Gillian Anderson (55), Rhona Mitra (47), Dan Levy (40), Eric Bana (55), Melanie Griffith (66), Audrey Tautou (47), Dustin Hoffman (86), Abbie Cornish(41), Charlize Theron (48), Michael Shannon (49), Tobin Bell (81), and David Duchovny (63).

Dead Pool 6th August 2023

We have a few recognisable faces this week, but sadly no points to award, even though we’ve all been good girls this week… We saw the passing of the ‘worlds oldest man’, José Paulino Gomes, 127, however, because he was unverified he wasn’t listed on the Wiki Obituary Page.

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Paedophile rock star Ian Watkins has reportedly been stabbed at HMP Wakefield. It is understood Watkins was taken hostage by three other inmates shortly after 9am on Saturday morning. A source told the Flying Monkeys that Watkins suffered stab wounds and beatings before eventually being freed by prison officers around six hours later. “He was found by officers after being held hostage and battered on Saturday morning. He’s in a life-threatening condition and there are fears he could die. If he survives, he’ll have been very lucky.” A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Police are investigating an incident which took place on Saturday at HMP Wakefield. “We are unable to comment further while the police investigate.” Watkins was jailed for 29 years in December 2013 with a further six years on licence, after admitting a string of sex offences – including the attempted rape of a fan’s baby. The disgraced singer was arrested following the execution of a drugs warrant at his Pontypridd home on September 21st 2012 when a large number of computers, mobile phones and storage devices were seized. Analysis of the equipment uncovered Watkins’ depraved behaviour. In 2017, the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed that could have been caught and brought to justice nearly four years earlier if police had properly investigated reports from a series of informants. In a damning report, the IPCC details how South Wales Police missed a series of opportunities to put a stop to the Lostprophet singer’s campaign of abuse against children in the years before his arrest. Officers were found to have made “errors and omissions” and in some instances failed to “carry out even rudimentary investigation” into reports of Watkins’s wrongdoing made by his ex-girlfriend Joanne Mjadzelics and other witnesses between 2008 and September 2012. 

A police dog who won the nation’s hearts after he was stabbed while protecting his handler has died. PD Finn suffered near-fatal injuries in 2016 when he confronted an armed suspect in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, while protecting PC Dave Wardell. Finn recovered and returned to duty, before retiring in 2017. He also appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and a new law in his name was introduced. PC Wardell said he was “broken” after his “hero” dog died aged 14. “I’m devastated,” he said. “I’m completely lost without him. I hope people remember him and that his legacy lives forever.” German Shepherd Finn had been trained by, and lived with, the officer in Hertfordshire since he was a puppy. PC Wardell is in no doubt that Finn, then aged seven, saved his life on that fateful night in 2016. Finn was stabbed in the chest and head and was not expected to survive. PC Wardell was stabbed in the hand. A teenager was sentenced to youth custody for the attack. The assault on the dog was dealt with by the law as “criminal damage”. After a campaign for a change in the law regarding injuries to police support animals was set up, the new Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act – known as Finn’s Law – was introduced in 2019. A Facebook post released on behalf of PC Wardell and his wife Gemma said Finn died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday. Thin Blue Paw Foundation, a national charity that supports retired police dogs, said Finn left a “huge legacy” behind. “Our thoughts are with Finn’s family at this very difficult time. Finn, your legacy will live on, may you stand down with pride.”   

The pioneering Welsh wrestler Adrian Street, who found fame after leaving his mining community to become a flamboyant fighter, has died at the age of 82. The Brynmawr-raised performer was known for his androgynous appearance and claimed to have taken part in more than 12,000 fights during a career that spanned seven decades – including one contest where he dropkicked Jimmy Savile! Yay!  Street left his home town in the 1950s to seek fame as a wrestler in London, rejecting his family’s tradition of working in coal mines. In the capital he became known for being a heel, specialising in antagonising crowds with his fighting and appearance. He later developed a penchant for flamboyant costumes that challenged social norms and helped sow the seeds for glam rock – often appearing wearing lipstick, with bright dyed hair and wearing a feather boa. After a successful stint on the British wrestling scene he moved to Florida where he ran a wrestling academy, before moving back to the Welsh valleys towards the end of his life. He wrote a series of autobiographies, calling himself the “sadist in sequins” and “merchant of menace”. His wife, Linda, a fellow wrestler, confirmed that Street died on 24th July in Cwmbran after recently undergoing brain surgery. She told the Flying Monkeys her husband was “the kindest, most lovely and loving man I’ve ever known” and “the total opposite to how he behaved on stage”. At one point Street in the 1970s was booked to wrestle Savile, decades before the TV presenter was exposed as one of Britain’s worst paedophiles. Street said that he was delighted with his performance against Savile. “I ripped his hair out of his head … I drop kicked him so hard he landed on his head. I beat the crap out of him. I kicked him and smashed him and stomped on him. I put a submission on him that nearly broke his back. They shovelled him out of the ring and that ended the contest and he never ever wrestled again.” What a man!  

An Indiana mother of two died in July after drinking too much water too quickly, according to her family. Ashley Summers was enjoying a visit to Indiana’s Lake Freeman over the Fourth of July weekend when she told those around her she was feeling dehydrated, light-headed, and felt she couldn’t drink enough water. After consuming multiple bottles of water in a short span, she went home, where she passed out in her garage. Her family rushed her to the IU Health Arnett Hospital, but she never regained consciousness, succumbing to water toxicity. “It was a shock to all of us. When they first started talking about water toxicity. It was like this is a thing?” Devon Miller, Ashley’s brother, told the Flying Monkeys. “Someone said she drank four bottles of water in 20 minutes. I mean, an average water bottle is like 16 ounces, so that was 64 ounces that she drank in a span of 20 minutes. That’s half a gallon. That’s what you’re supposed to drink in a whole day,” he added. “It’s relatively rare,” Dr Alok Harwani, a physician at the hospital said “Now, what we are concerned about is just drinking too much water in a short period of time. Your kidneys can really only clear about a litre of water per hour.” The doctor said it’s a good idea when spending a lot of time outside in hot weather to continue to eat or drink things with electrolytes, like fruit or Gatorade, in addition to plain water, helping maintain the balance of water and sodium in the blood. Clubbers, particularly those on drugs like MDMA, can be susceptible to the condition as they sweat profusely and rehydrate with water over hours of dancing. 

On This Day

  • 1890 – At Auburn Prison in New York, murderer William Kemmler becomes the first person to be executed by electric chair.
  • 1926 – Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel.
  • 1945 – World War II: Hiroshima, Japan is devastated when the atomic bomb “Little Boy” is dropped by the United States B-29 Enola Gay. Around 70,000 people are killed instantly, and some tens of thousands die in subsequent years from burns and radiation poisoning.
  • 2012 – NASA’s Curiosity rover lands on the surface of Mars.


  • 2005 – Robin Cook, Scottish educator and politician, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (b. 1946).
  • 2005 – Creme Puff, tabby domestic cat, oldest recorded cat 38 years, 3 days (b. 1967).
  • 2009 – John Hughes, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1950).
  • 2012 – Bernard Lovell, English physicist and astronomer (b. 1913).

The First Use of The Electric Chair

William Kemmler was an American peddler, alcoholic, and murderer, who, in 1890, became the first person in the world to be executed by electric chair. He was convicted of murdering Matilda “Tillie” Ziegler, his common-law wife, a year earlier. Although electrocution had previously been successfully used to kill a horse, Kemmler’s execution did not go smoothly. 

Kemmler was born in Philadelphia in 1860. Both of his parents were immigrants from Germany, and both were alcoholics. After dropping out of school at age 10, unable to read or write, Kemmler worked in his father’s butcher shop.

After his parents’ deaths, he went into the peddling business, and earned enough money to buy a horse and cart. At this point, however, he was also becoming a heavy drinker. In one episode involving him and his friends, after a series of drunken binges, he said he could jump his horse and cart over an eight-foot fence, with the cart attached to the horse. The attempt was a failure, and his cart and goods were destroyed in the incident. He was known to friends as “Philadelphia Billy”, and his drinking binges were very well known around the saloons in his Buffalo neighbourhood. 

On March 29th 1889, he was recovering from a drinking binge the night before when he became enraged with his girlfriend Tillie Ziegler. He accused her of stealing from him and preparing to run away with a friend of his. When the argument reached a peak, Kemmler calmly went to the barn, grabbed a hatchet, and returned to the house. He struck Tillie repeatedly, killing her. He then went to a neighbour’s house and announced he had just murdered his girlfriend. 

Kemmler’s resulting murder trial proceeded quickly. He was convicted of first-degree murder on May 10th. Three days later he was sentenced to death, destined to be the first person executed in an electric chair under New York’s new execution law replacing hanging with electrocution.

It was determined that his sentence was to be carried out at New York’s Auburn Prison via the new electric chair, a device invented in 1881 by Buffalo, New York, dentist Alfred Southwick. After nine years of development and legislation, the chair was considered ready for use. 

The plan to carry out Kemmler’s execution via electric chair drew the situation into the AC/DC “war of the currents” between George Westinghouse, the largest supplier of alternating current equipment, and Thomas Edison, whose company ran its equipment on direct current. The alternating current that powered the electric chair was supplied by a Westinghouse generator surreptitiously acquired. This led to Westinghouse trying to stop what seemed to be Edison’s attempt to try to portray the AC used in Westinghouse electrical system as the deadly “executioners’ current”, supporting Kemmler’s appeal by hiring lawyer W. Bourke Cockran to represent him. The appeal failed on October 9th 1889, and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the case, titled In re Kemmler, on the grounds that there was no cruel and unusual punishment in death by electrocution! 

On the morning of his execution, Kemmler was awakened at 5:00 a.m. He dressed quickly and put on a suit, necktie, and white shirt. After breakfast and some prayer, the top of his head was shaved. At 6:38 a.m., Kemmler entered the execution room and warden Charles Durston presented Kemmler to the 17 witnesses in attendance. Kemmler looked at the chair and said: “Gentlemen, I wish you all good luck. I believe I am going to a good place, and I am ready to go.”

Witnesses remarked that Kemmler was composed at his execution; he did not scream, cry, or resist in any way. He sat down on the chair, but was ordered to get up by the warden so a hole could be cut in his suit through which a second electrical lead could be attached. This was done and Kemmler sat down again. He was strapped to the chair, his face was covered and the metal restraint put on his bare head. He said, “Take it easy and do it properly, I’m in no hurry.” Durston replied, “Goodbye, William” and ordered the switch thrown.

The generator was charged with 1,000 volts, which was thought to be adequate to induce quick unconsciousness and cardiac arrest. The chair had already been tested; a horse had been electrocuted the day before. Current passed through Kemmler for 17 seconds. The power was turned off and Kemmler was declared dead by Edward Charles Spitzka. Witnesses noticed Kemmler was still breathing. The attending physicians, Spitzka and Carlos Frederick MacDonald, came forward to examine Kemmler. After confirming he was still alive, Spitzka reportedly called out, “Have the current turned on again, quick—no delay.”

In the second attempt, Kemmler was shocked with 2,000 volts. Blood vessels under his skin ruptured and bled, and some witnesses claimed his body caught fire. The New York Times reported instead that “an awful odour began to permeate the death chamber, and then, as though to cap the climax of this fearful sight, it was seen that the hair under and around the electrode on the head and the flesh under and around the electrode at the base of the spine was singeing. The stench was unbearable. Upon autopsy, doctors had found the blood vessels under the cap of his skull had carbonised and the top of the brain had hardened. Witnesses reported the smell of burning flesh and several nauseated spectators tried to leave the room.

The execution took approximately eight minutes. The competitive newspaper reporters covering the Kemmler execution jumped on the abnormalities as each newspaper source tried to outdo each other with sensational headlines and reports. The New York Times ran the headline: “Far Worse Than Hanging”. Westinghouse later commented “They would have done better using an axe”.

Kemmler is buried in the precincts of the prison where his execution took place.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Michelle Yeoh (61), M. Night Shyamalan (53), Geri Horner (51), James Gunn (57), Mark Strong (60), Loni Anderson (78), Meghan Markle (42), Billy Bob Thornton (68), Lee Mack (55), Barack Obama (62), Evangeline Lilly (44), Stephen Graham (50), Martin Sheen (83), John C. McGinley (64), John Landis (73), Mamie Gummer (40), Steven Berkoff (86), James Hetfield (60), Sam Worthington (47), Edward Furlong (46), Kevin Smith (53), Jason Momoa (44), Adrian Dunbar (65), Daisy May Cooper (37), Michael Biehn (67), Emilia Fox (49), Wesley Snipes (61), Dean Cain (57), and J.K. Rowling (58).

Dead Pool 30th July 2023

This week is marked by the sad passing of Sinéad O’Connor, unsurprisingly, nobody had her listed. However, George Alagiah finally succumbed to cancer, so 83 points for Neil, Martin, Nickie, Christine, Julia and myself. Well done everyone! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A beloved captive manatee has died after ‘high intensity sex’ with his brother caused severe internal injuries, a autopsy has found. Hugh, 38, died at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Saratsota on April 29th after mating with his larger brother, Buffet, caused a 14.5cm rip in his colon. The aquarium said it observed the pair engaging in ‘in natural, yet increased, mating behaviour’ on the day, and then later found blood in Hugh’s colon, before he was found unresponsive at the bottom of the pool. According to the aquarium such behaviour has been ‘documented in manatees both in managed care and in the wild.’ Officials said this was the first time such heightened mating behaviour was witnessed between the two manatees and it was believed that separating them would cause more harm. Hugh and Buffett were both observed initiating and mutually seeking interactions from each other throughout the day and there were no obvious signs of discomfort or distress such as listing, crunching, or active avoidance that would have triggered a need for intervention’ they explained. Jenessa Gjeltema, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine told the Flying Monkeys: ‘You can have a poor outcome in those kinds of situations either way sometimes… Managing these wild animals under human care, it’s not always a straightforward situation.’ Gjeltema said that sex between male manatees, including brothers, is not uncommon. ‘They’re not too meticulous about who their partners are. They just have this kind of a sexual urge, and then they’ll engage in activity with whomever seems to be in the area’, she explained. She added: ‘That context of whom is related to whom is less of an important factor in their social engagements and interactions.’ 

TV chef James Martin has revealed he was diagnosed with cancer on his face and gets ‘regular’ treatments to combat the disease. This revelation comes after he was accused of ‘bullying and intimidating behaviour’ by crew members on an ITV show. He released a statement where he said he “was shocked by what had happened and on reflection acknowledges he responded emotionally.” James, 51, has been accused by a producer that while filming for James Martin’s Spanish Adventure he ‘berated’ staff and ‘reduced them to tears’ in front of other colleagues. Leaked audio was released that heard him ranting at staff for ten minutes in an expletive-filled rant. In response, Martin said that time was “one of the most fraught and difficult periods of my life”. Opening up about his illness, he told the Flying Monkeys: “I was diagnosed with cancer on my face and I had to have surgery, which I couldn’t do until two days before Christmas when we had finished filming. Since then it has returned on several occasions and I have to have regular treatments.” Martin said he “sincerely apologised” to the crew at the time of the rant in 2018. He said: “I have always strived to keep my private life private. However since details of a conversation, which was secretly recorded in January 2018, are now five years later being made public by a former member of our production team, I have decided to make a statement. The end of 2017 was one of the most fraught and difficult periods of my life. I was dealing with the death of my last living grandparent, my grandfather, and on account of work commitments I could not attend his funeral. Later that month I was burgled at night by a team of masked men, who entered my house while my partner Louise was at home alone and I was away working. I was devastated that she had to go through that alone.” Excuses excuses… 

On This Day

  • 1966 – England defeats West Germany to win the 1966 FIFA World Cup at Wembley Stadium after extra time and they haven’t shut up about it since…
  • 1975 – Jimmy Hoffa disappears from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, at about 2:30 p.m. He is never seen or heard from again.
  • 1990 – Ian Gow, Conservative Member of Parliament, is assassinated at his home by IRA terrorists in a car bombing after he assured the group that the British government would never surrender to them.
  • 2003 – In Mexico, the last ‘old style’ Volkswagen Beetle rolls off the assembly line.
  • 2006 – The world’s longest running music show Top of the Pops is broadcast for the last time on BBC Two. The show had aired for 42 years.


  • 1898 – Otto von Bismarck, German politician, 1st Chancellor of Germany (b. 1815).
  • 1992 – Joe Shuster, Canadian-American illustrator, co-created Superman (b. 1914).
  • 2007 – Ingmar Bergman, Swedish director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1918).
  • 2022 – Nichelle Nichols, American actress, singer and dancer (b. 1932).

The Ramree Island Crocodile Massacre 

In early 1945, as part of the Pacific War during World War II, Allied forces pinned down 1,000 Japanese soldiers in a mangrove swamp off the coast of Burma. Only 20 of the Japanese fighters made it out alive. The rest were reportedly eaten alive by hordes of prehistoric-looking saltwater crocodiles. According to one Allied commander: 

“That night was the most horrible that any member of the motor launch crews ever experienced. The scattered rifle shots in the pitch-black swamp punctured by the screams of wounded men crushed in the jaws of huge reptiles, and the blurred worrying sound of spinning crocodiles made a cacophony of hell that has rarely been duplicated on earth. At dawn the vultures arrived to clean up what the crocodiles had left… Of about one thousand Japanese soldiers that entered the swamps of Ramree, only about twenty were found alive.” 

This horrific event is known as the Ramree Island crocodile massacre, and in 1968 the Guinness Book of World Records awarded it the dubious distinction of “most human fatalities in a crocodile attack” at roughly 900 dead.

But in recent decades, historians and herpetologists have cast doubt on the ghastly tale. While it’s clear that scores of Japanese soldiers died in the battle for Ramree Island, there’s no mention of a “crocodile massacre” in official military reports (either British or Japanese), and saltwater crocodiles aren’t known for “feeding frenzies” of this scale, especially on live human prey.

So where did this apocryphal tale come from, and how did it spread so far and wide? 

The gruesome passage quoted above was written by Bruce S. Wright, a Royal Canadian Lieutenant Commander credited with inventing the idea of “frogmen units,” SCUBA-diving soldiers who could spy on the enemy from the water.

In 1945, Wright took part in the joint British and Indian assault on Ramree Island, which the Allies hoped to capture from the Japanese and use as a strategic airfield. As the leader of his frogman unit, Wright’s job was to perform reconnaissance, but he also spent hours documenting the local sea life, which included sharks and octopi. After the war, Wright became a respected wildlife biologist and author.

Interestingly, it may have been Wright’s clout as a naturalist that helped launch the myth of the crocodile massacre into the public imagination.

Wright wrote his one-paragraph account of the killer crocodiles in his 1962 book, “Wildlife Sketches: Near and Far.” But then the story was picked up by another scientist, the conservationist Roger Caras. In his 1964 book “Dangerous to Man,” Caras called the Ramree incident “one of the most deliberate and wholesale attacks on man by large animals that is on record.” Caras admits that “had the story come from a source other than Bruce Wright, I would be tempted to discount it. But Bruce Wright, a highly trained professional naturalist, was there at Ramree.” 

The problem is that while Wright was technically at Ramree, he wasn’t among the witnesses who claimed to have heard the cries of the Japanese as they were mauled by the giant crocodiles. According to a later retelling of the story in his memoir “The Frogmen of Burma,” Wright heard the story from British comrades on the boat crews patrolling the island.

If you read the passage closely, you see that Wright never said that he personally witnessed the massacre. “That night was the most horrible that any member of the motor launch crews ever experienced,” wrote Wright using the third person. But it’s precisely because of Wright’s reputation as a careful observer of the natural world that his secondhand (and likely embellished) account was accepted as fact. 

Yes, the saltwater crocodile is one of two crocodile species that “regularly prey on humans,” according to herpetologist Steven Platt. Saltwater crocodiles can grow to lengths of 23 feet (7 meters) and weigh more than a ton, and unlike alligators and smaller crocodiles, saltwater crocs will aggressively defend their territory and snack on the occasional human. Every year, dozens of people are killed by saltwater crocodiles, like the unfortunate 8-year-old girl who was attacked and eaten in front of her friends in Indonesia in 2021.

How common are saltwater crocodile attacks? In 2015, there were 180 total crocodile attacks in Southeast Asia, coastal India and Oceania and 79 of those were fatal.

Given that fewer than 100 people are killed by saltwater crocodiles each year across all of Southeast Asia and Oceania, what are the odds that 900 Japanese soldiers could have been eaten alive by ravenous crocodiles in a matter of weeks — much less during one horrific night — on one small island?

Historian Frank McLynn, in his book on the battle for Burma, concluded that the Ramree Island crocodile massacre “offends every single canon of historical verifiability” and also defies ecological logic. “If ‘thousands of crocodiles’ were involved in the massacre,” McLynn asks “how had these ravening monsters survived before and how were they able to survive later?” 

If the 900 Japanese soldiers weren’t gobbled up by crocodiles, as reported by Wright, then how did they die?

Well, for starters, the Japanese didn’t lose 900 soldiers at Ramree. According to two investigations. Roughly 500 of the original 1,000 Japanese soldiers were able to escape the mangrove swamps alive. That information was found in the Japanese military archives.

That still leaves 500 Japanese soldiers dead on Ramree, but very few of them, if any, were victims of crocodiles. According to local Burmese villagers who were alive during the battle for Ramree, including some who were conscripted by the Japanese military, most of the Japanese casualties in the swamp were due to dehydration and disease caused by exposure and lack of clean food and water.

So, what were those terrifying sounds that British boat patrols reportedly heard on that fateful night in February of 1945? There might be an answer for that, too. According to British military records accessed by the National Geographic investigation, in the early hours of February 18th 1945, the Allies discovered a “desperate attempt” by hundreds of Japanese soldiers to swim across a channel separating Ramree Island from the Burmese mainland.

“Except for a few swimmers, it’s doubtful that any survived the crossing,” reads the official British report. “It’s estimated that at least 100 Japanese were killed or drowned that night … 200 killed is regarded as a conservative estimate — about 40 loaded boats were known to have sunk. Possibly another 50 Japanese died in the mangrove from exposure and want of food and water. 14 prisoners were taken.”

This was most likely the real Ramree Island massacre, one perpetrated by human soldiers in an awful war, and not by bloodthirsty predators. 

Even though the vast majority of the Japanese casualties at Ramree Island were from conventional causes, there is some credence to the crocodile story.

When Steven Platt’s team interviewed local villagers, they said that 10 to 15 Japanese soldiers may have been attacked and killed by crocodiles as they tried to swim the channel. Another Allied commander reported that the escaping Japanese soldiers fell victim to naval patrols — and sharks — while attempting to reach the mainland. So, there’s evidence that at least some soldiers were killed by large predators lurking in the water.

And then there’s this gruesome clue to the origin of the Ramree Island myth. The morning after the Allied forces mowed down hundreds of escaping Japanese soldiers, the British military noticed the arrival of some opportunistic hunters to feed on the dead.

“The next day presented a grim appearance to add to the horror of the scene,” says the official British report. “Crocodiles previously reported as rarely seen appeared on the channel banks in increasing numbers.” 

Myth or fact, we will probably never really know. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Christopher Nolan (53), Arnold Schwarzenegger (76), Laurence Fishburne (62), Hilary Swank (49), Jean Reno (75), Lisa Kudrow (60), Terry Crews (55), Carel Struycken (75), Frances de la Tour (79), Wil Wheaton (51), Anya Chalotra (28), Hannah Waddingham (49), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (53), Donnie Yen (60), Taylor Schilling (39), Jason Statham (56), Sandra Bullock (59), Kate Beckinsale (50), Helen Mirren (78), Kevin Spacey (64), Eve Myles (45), Nana Visitor (66), Mick Jagger (80), D.B. Woodside (54), Matt LeBlanc (56), Iman (68), Rose Byrne (44), Summer Glau (42), Anna Paquin (41), Jennifer Lopez (54), Elisabeth Moss (41), Lynda Carter (72), and Danny Dyer (46).