‘His last one did alright’: Cleese returning to TV to star in sitcom

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 30: John Cleese attends a press conference ahead of their upcoming tour at the O2 Arena ????????Monty Python Live???????? at the London Palladium on June 30, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images) Photo: Getty ImagesAfter almost 40 years, John Cleese has announced he’s returning to the scene of his greatest triumph: BBC television comedy.

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The upcoming sitcom, titled Edith, will be Cleese’s first leading role on a TV series since Fawlty Towers – featuring his iconic turn as bumbling hotel manager Basil – wrapped in 1979.

The six-episode series – co-starring Alison Steadman, who Cleese worked with in the 1985 film Clockwise – follows the widowed Edith (Steadman) and Phil (Cleese), two longtime neighbours who marry and “plan to follow the sun and move abroad”. But their plans are thwarted when Edith’s 50-year-old son Roger (Jason Watkins) moves back home after leaving his wife, kids and job.

The series is being penned by writer Charles McKeown, a satellite member of Cleese’s Monty Python crew, best known for his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

“These are the most enjoyable scripts I’ve been sent in the last 100 years,” Cleese joked in a BBC statement announcing the news.

The announcement marks a major about-face for Cleese, 77, who had recently taken potshots at BBC’s comedy content.

The actor infamously pilloried the network in an interview in 2015, accusing its commissioning editors of having “no idea what they are doing” and saying he would never work for them again.

But last year, when news of the project first floated, BBC’s head of comedy Shane Allen brushed off the criticism, saying Cleese is “a comedy god and the door is always open to him”.

“It’s a huge pleasure to welcome John Cleese back to the land of BBC sitcom – his last one did alright,” Allen offered in yesterday’s press release.

The announcement continues the BBC’s unlikely infatuation with its veteran content and stars. It courted ridicule with its ‘Landmark Sitcom Season’ offerings last year after producing a slate of one-off reboots of its stale classics, including new episodes of Are You Being Served?, Porridge and a prequel to Keeping Up Appearances, titled Young Hyacinth.

Cleese, who’s made the odd TV guest spot since Fawlty Towers in American series including Will & Grace, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Entourage, was in Sydney last year for the debut run of Fawlty Towers Live, a theatrical adaptation of the sitcom that opened to middling reviews.

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Players’ big pay break through

AFL players would get a pay rise this year of almost 25 per cent after the league put forward a revised offer to the players union in protracted pay talks in recent days.

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In the first meaningful movement in talks since August last year, the league has discussed an increase of about $45 million for this year in the total player payments, an increase that would represent a rise of close to 25 per cent increase on last year.

Despite the huge jump in year one, the increases in the subsequent five years of the six-year collective bargaining agreement are modest and the players view is that the league’s total offer over the six-year term represents less in terms of a percentage of revenue than they are receiving now. The league is expected to forward the improved pay offer to the AFLPA in writing in coming days. The total player payments increase will also be slightly offset by changes to the veterans allowance.

Some players, including highly prized Adelaide key defender Jake Lever and ruckman Sam Jacobs have put off talks on a new contract until the new CBA is completed.

“In terms of my contract status, I’m sort of waiting for the CBA to be done, but my manager is in constant talks with the club,” Lever said last week.

“With the CBA not being done, it’s almost like you’re building the house without a budget, so you don’t really know what you’re working with.”

Clubs had budgeted for a 10 per cent increase this year. A figure that clubs had been told to budget for in 2017.

The AFLPA will continue to push for significant rises beyond this season.

The players have made a number of concessions in discussions, but are continuing to push for a percentage of key game revenues.

While the AFL and the players are close to reaching an understanding over a mechanism where the players will receive an uplift should AFL revenues exceed forecasts, the two parties have hit a stumbling block over rises for players for an increase in club revenues.

AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan returned last month to the negotiating table.

The two parties are talking regularly, meeting on a weekly basis, with the players determined that their wage rise will come into play in 2017, the first year of the new six-year, $2.5 billion broadcast agreement.

While the players have agreed to set aside some of their demands, the union remains determined to push for two mid-season byes despite the AFL’s opposition and a lack of public support. The AFL is determined to have no mid-year bye and one at the end of the season.

Although the AFL offer represents some progress, clubs fear the two bodies remain significantly apart in terms of the pay increase after the first year and the longer it drags on the harder it is for them to complete deals with valuable unsigned players and oversee significant list-management decisions.

The clubs are taking comfort in the fact the AFL will fund all future rises in the salary cap.

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Exciting shows coming to Newcastle

An intriguing, qualityexhibition from the National Gallery of Australia is heading to Newcastle in May.Abstraction: Celebrating Australian Women Abstract Artists, opens on May 20.

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Abstractioncasts a wide net with a diverse and broad range featuring 76 works of art by 38 artists including Yvonne Audette, Dorrit Black, Grace Crowley, Anne Dangar, Janet Dawson, Inge King, Margo Lewers and Margaret Preston, through to contemporary practitioners Elizabeth Coats, Melinda Harper and Idiko Kovacs, among others.

Robert Nelson, art critic for The Age, reviewed Abstraction, currently showing at the Geelong Art Gallery. He said, in part, “This fine exhibition covers the great range of approaches. Drawn entirely fromwomenartists from the 1920s to now, it follows a chronological model that locates each artist in her proper historical place.

“It begins with the ghost of cubism, where artists like Margaret Preston, Dorrit Black, Grace CrowleyandAnne Dangar wrestled with forms that simplified or essentialised motifs. There are lovely ceramics by Dangar which, with their graphic robustness, could have inspired Preston’s paintings.

“Then there is the influence ofabstractexpressionism, considered in America to beabstractionin its essence. The movement sought to create inventions in colour that were about nothing but the paint, as if the subject matter of painting was the paint itself. This encouraged a grand manner of gestureandscale, proposing a new sublimity of form.

“This is captured best in Yvonne Audette’s work of the 1950s. Her greyandbrown The flat landscape invites you to see foreground, middleandsky; but you have to unread the painting to understand it.”

The Abstraction show will be followed by The Phantom Show, which celebrates 40 years since the Newcastle Art Gallery exhibitionTheGhost who walks.

The Phantom Show runs June 10 to August 20. It will be curated by Peter Kingston and DietmarLederwasch.

The 1977 exhibition young talentto Newcastle, including Peter Kingston,Richard Larter,Richard Liney, Phillipe Mora, Garry Shead and Martin Sharp.

In 2017The Phantom Show will show from artistsEuan Macleod, Michael Bell, Dallas Bray, Chris Capper, Dino Consalvo, James Drinkwater, Ron Hartree, Aleta Lederwasch, Dietmar Lederwasch, Claire Martin, John Morris, Lezlie Tilley, Peter Tilley, John Turier and Graham Wilson.

In the show: Grace Crowley Abstract painting 1947, NGA.

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Psychologist wrote children’s books while having sex with vulnerable patient

A profile of Harry Mayr describes him as “an innocent dreamer” whose fictional character Ilsa “helps them make sense of life’s many journeys and challenges”.

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However, Mr Mayr, a psychologist and author of children’s books, has been found guilty of professional misconduct for having a sexual relationship with a patient he was treating for past sexual traumas.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal detailed a series of transgressions, which included Mr Mayr licking the patient’s face during therapy and engaging in “inappropriate sexual contact” at the end of other sessions.

He subsequently had what the tribunal called an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with the patient for almost two years, including having sex with the patient on his desk at his clinic in Penrith.

On another occasion, Mr Mayr performed oral sex on the patient while she was on the clinic’s kitchen bench.

The tribunal said Mr Mayr failed to provide appropriate care and treatment by suggesting the patient watch Last Tango in Paris and 1977 French film Bilitis, which one reviewer said: “If released today, its lingering, leery shots of barely developed school girls would no doubt cause a Bill Henson-like backlash.”

The tribunal cancelled Mr Mayr’s registration to practise psychology for five years.

“The profession needs to be made aware that such behaviour cannot be tolerated by the profession without damage to the good name of the profession of psychology,” the tribunal said in its judgment.

The tribunal said Mr Mayr would have been fully aware of a power imbalance a psychologist and a patient in a vulnerable state: “Nevertheless he proceeded to use that imbalance of power to satisfy his own needs.”

The tribunal noted that sex between psychologists and patients is prohibited under the Australian Psychological Society’s code of ethics.

Mr Mayr first met the patient in 2006 when she brought her preschool age child, who suffered from anxiety, to his St Marys/Penrith Psychological Services clinic.

Four years later, she returned to the clinic with her oldest child who had Asperger’s Syndrome before beginning regular therapy sessions with Mr Mayr.

The tribunal said Mr Mayr failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with his patient by sharing personal information including extra marital affairs and “past indiscretions with a female patient”.

The tribunal said Mr Mayr commented on similarities between the patient and the main character in the children’s book he was writing.

Mr Mayr’s first book, Ilsa, the funny looking hippopotamus, was published in 2012 and won a “Mom’s Choice Award” in 2013, according to his author website.

“Ilsa’s innocence and genuineness captivate and unite people of all ages around the world,” the website said.

He wrote a second book, Ilsa’s waterhole of priceless treasures, and sold Ilsa merchandise.

Meanwhile, the tribunal said Mr Mayr sent emails from mid-2011 to his patient detailing his sexual fantasies and “encouraged her to perform or engage in certain sexual activities”.

In one therapy session, the tribunal said Mr Mayr kissed the patient’s stomach and breasts and “stated words to the effect of ‘I am the type of person who would be in the shower with you and would take a shampoo bottle and put it up your arse’.”

Appearing before the tribunal, the patient said Mr Mayr had not explained why his sexual advances, apart from hugging, would be helpful as a method of treatment.

“She did not know whether he helped her but her mental state was such that whatever he wanted her to do she would go along with it,” the tribunal said. “After a moments reflection she stated that he did not help her and in fact made her worse.”

The tribunal said Mr Mayr lacked insight into his conduct “save as it impacts upon himself and he speaks of ‘this one error in judgement’ as if his course of conduct over a period of three years could be limited in this way”.

Mr Mayr declined to comment but indicated that he would seek to appeal against the decision.

Cameron Stewart, a professor of health, law and ethics at the University of Sydney, said dozens of doctors and psychologists had been struck off for having sex with patients.

“People are unaware of how often this happens,” he said.

Professor Stewart said inappropriate sexual relationships particularly occurred with vulnerable patients: “The connection between a health professional and the patient is so strong that it’s hard for some health practitioners to differentiate the therapeutic relationship and relationships of affection.”

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Melbourne scientists make groundbreaking cancer discovery

Melbourne scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery in the fight against cancer, finding a way to reduce the growth of some tumours.

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Researchers from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute have found that inhibiting a particular protein can suspend the growth of bowel and gastric cancers.

Gastrointestinal cancers are among the most common and deadly forms of cancer, affecting more than 15,000 Australians each year.

Scientific director at the institute Professor Matthias Ernst led the pioneering research, which was published in the latest issue of medical journal Cancer Cell.

“Our discovery could potentially offer a new and complementary approach to chemotherapy and immunotherapy as options for treating gastrointestinal cancers,” Professor Ernst said.

In preclinical trials, his research showed a protein called hematopoietic cell kinase (HCK) had a powerful role in the development of cancer because of its effect on macrophages, which are important cells of the immune system.

“These cells can behave like ‘garbage collectors’ when they remove unwanted debris or damaged cells, or they can behave like ‘nurses’ to help at sites of injury and wounding,” Professor Ernst said.

“What we’ve now discovered is the more HCK activity a macrophage has, the more it nurtures cancer cell growth and survival.”

Professor Ernst’s team found that inhibiting HCK using a small drug-like molecule could stop the growth of bowel and gastric cancers.

Head of medical oncology at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre Dr Niall Tebbutt said bowel cancer was generally resistant to conventional immunotherapy treatments.

He said the research offered a “new approach to possibly overcome this resistance”.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessey said the results were another step forward in the fight against cancer.

“Stomach and bowel cancers are among the biggest killers of Victorians each year and this revolutionary development has the potential to one day save thousands of lives,” she said.

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