Mastermind: John Humphrys to step down as host

John Humphrys will step down as host of long-running BBC quiz Mastermind at the end of the current series.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Humphrys, 77, said he would be giving up the role in March, after 18 years.

“Now, after more than 750 shows, it really is time to finish,” he said in a nod to the show’s catchphrase.

Humphrys, who took on the quizmaster role in 2003, said he did not envy his successor – adding Mastermind was a show you tinkered with “at your peril”.

The BBC said it wanted to thank Humphrys for his work on the programme. “He has been a first class presenter and we look forward to working with him on other projects in the future,” a spokesman added.

There is currently no word on who might follow in Humphry’s footsteps.

“When the present series comes to an end in March there will be someone else in the chair,” the former Today programme presenter wrote in his newspaper column.

“I wish my successor well – but I’m not sure I envy them, whoever ‘they’ may be.

“What are the odds on the first female?” he added.

Humphrys said when he took on the role of Mastermind host in 2003, the BBC stipulated that he must retain predecessor Magnus Magnusson’s much-mimicked coda: “I’ve started, so I’ll finish.”

“Mastermind is one of those programmes you tinker with at your peril,” he wrote in Saturday’s column. “Allow a contender to choose a light-hearted subject and the cry goes out: ‘Dumbing down!’ Change the format even slightly and you are ‘sexing up’.”

Magnusson was the first host of Mastermind, which debuted on BBC One in 1972.

The show features four contenders who each answer questions on a specialist subject of their choice against the clock, followed by a series of general knowledge questions. There are no cash prizes, just kudos.

The show, which originally aired in a late night slot amid fears it was too highbrow, has become a national institution – and is famous for its black leather chair, in which the contestant sits, and ominous theme tune, aptly titled Approaching Menace.

Broadcaster Humphrys built a reputation as a tenacious interrogator of politicians on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, stepping down as a presenter on the show in September 2019, after 32 years.

He has since taken on a presenting role on Classic FM.

Croydon stabbings: Abhorrent night of violence leaves man dead

Police have condemned a night of “needless and abhorrent” violence after a man died and nine others were hurt in a spate of stabbings in south London.

Officers were called to five stabbing incidents in the space of just over two and half hours on Friday evening.

A 22-year-old man was killed in a fight at a block of flats in Wisbeach Road, Croydon, police said.

None of the attacks is being linked, but police said extra officers would be deployed in south London.

Police said the dead man was stabbed in an altercation with a group of males and a murder investigation was under way.

On Saturday afternoon friends and family of the victim, including his mother, laid flowers alongside a police cordon at the scene.

Det Supt Nicky Arrowsmith said: “Sadly, tonight [Friday] we have seen a number of needless and completely abhorrent violent altercations, including one that has tragically resulted in a loss of life.

“We need to hear from anyone who has information about crime, those who carry a weapon, or those who exploit others for gain or revenge, while putting young people’s lives at risk – we need this information to help keep London safe.”

The man who died was one of two men reported to have been injured at the property in Wisbeach Road.

A resident described seeing police and medical staff trying to save him.

The witness, who asked not to be named, said: “There was blood everywhere, it looked like he was cut in the leg and they tried to stop the bleeding.

“His mum was here crying and she was in pieces.

“It is terrifying, my son is 19 and I’m worried for him.” Ch Insp Martin Thorpe, from the Met’s Specialist Crime team, said: “I am aware that this was one of a number of violent incidents in and around the south London area on Friday evening but there is nothing to connect these incidents together at this time.”

Police said none of the nine other casualties was now considered to be in a life-threatening condition and added that two people had been arrested.

On Saturday afternoon a 10th man, aged 24, was stabbed near West Croydon station on Oakfield Road.

The other attacks are being investigated by officers from the South Area Basic Command Unit, the Met said.

These include a man who was stabbed on Chapman Road, Croydon, and four men who took themselves to hospital with stab wounds after a fight in the Penwortham Road area of Wandsworth.

Another two men, both in their 30s, also went to hospital after a stabbing on Jay Gardens, Chislehurst, just before 21:00.

Police are also investigating the stabbing of a man in his 40s who was found wounded on Dingwall Road at 21:12.

The victim has since been arrested on suspicion of affray and a 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and remains in custody, the Met added.

Labour MP for Croydon North Steve Reed said in a tweet that the “absolutely horrific news” would “devastate our community”.

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Yorkshire floods: Rain leads to road and rail closures

Heavy rain has led to flooding across Yorkshire, leaving cars stranded, roads closed and rail services disrupted.

Several vehicles became stuck on Long Causeway at Denholme, Bradford, as it was blocked by flood water. Police are advising drivers to avoid the area.

In Cottingley Springs, Leeds, part of Gelderd Road was closed as the River Aire flooded on to the carriageway.

Flooding at Kirkstall Forge railway station led to services being cancelled between Shipley and Leeds.

Operator Northern said disruption was expected until 17:30 GMT, and people should check before they travel.

Some railway lines were blocked between Leeds and Wakefield Westgate due to flooding, and Cross Country Trains said some services may take a direct route between York and Sheffield to avoid the area.

In Calderdale, the council said the rain was causing “some significant surface water issues” on the area’s roads, and urged people to avoid driving and stay at home.

The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings for the Upper River Calder Catchment, and also for Hebble Brook at Halifax.

Calderdale Council tweeted: “We’re working with partners to check defences, clear debris and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

In Kirklees, the council said it had teams out delivering sandbags to properties in Cleckheaton due to a flood warning for the River Spen.

“If you live in the affected area please take immediate action,” it said.

Insp Ben Doughty, of West Yorkshire Police, said road conditions across Calderdale were challenging, and people should only travel if essential. Snow was adding to the problems at Todmorden, he added.

York City Council said the River Ouse was rising slightly, and was expected to peak on Sunday.

It said in a tweet: “Low lying river paths are likely to be flooded and JR [Joseph Rowntree] Park remains closed.

“As always, our defences are ready as we continue to monitor the situation.”

Bournemouth beach huts fire: Teenage boy arrested

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after three of the UK’s most expensive beach huts were destroyed by fire and 31 others broken into.

The fire at Mudeford Sandbank, near Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth, was spotted around 03:00 GMT on Saturday.

Nobody was inside the huts or injured in the incident, Dorset Police said.

The boy was arrested on suspicion of arson and burglary, the force added. Beach huts in the area have previously sold for £275,000.

The BBC spoke to owners who came to the beach to survey the damage to the huts.

Glen Tizzard said his hut was broken into and the door pulled off.

Dr Joan Robinson Harris, whose hut was left unharmed, described it as a “scene of devastation”.

She said: “Normally it’s a beautiful place where people holiday with their families.

“It’s absolutely devastating and it’s most unpleasant.”

A police cordon is currently in place. Detectives are appealing for witnesses and CCTV footage, but the force did not know whether anything had been stolen.

Det Insp Andrew Kennard said: “There has been considerable damage caused to a large number of beach huts and I would like to reassure the community that we are carrying out detailed enquiries into the incident.

“I am appealing to anyone who was in the area and either witnessed what happened or saw any suspicious activity to please get in touch.”

Police are working with BCP Council to identify the owners of the huts.

Brexit: Trade unions dispute Larne port threats claim

Three leading trade unions have distanced themselves from a council’s account of alleged threats to workers conducting Brexit checks at Larne Port.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was told by its mayor that unions had raised concerns about “suspicious activity”, including apparent attempts to record staff car registrations.

However, Nipsa, Unite and GMB said they made no such claim.

The council withdrew workers after a threat assessment by police on Monday.

On Friday, that decision was overturned and workers returned to duty.

The trade unions have now written to the council asking for the disputed comments to be withdrawn, Belfast Live has reported.

The comments were made in a public statement by the mayor, DUP councillor Peter Johnston, during a council meeting on Monday.

It came as councillors agreed to withdraw 12 staff from the port.

The unions said their only communication with the council about threats to workers prior to Monday evening’s decision was an email from Unite that afternoon about graffiti.

In a joint letter to the council, written by on behalf of the unions by TUS secretary Alan Law, they called for the comments to be “withdrawn and the official record amended”.

“As this was an official statement issued on behalf of council at the monthly meeting please would you clarify which trade union made this claim as neither Nipsa, GMB nor Unite did, and we absolutely distance ourselves from these remarks,” the letter said.

The letter added that trade unions took “great exception” to the council issuing any statement attributing remarks to the unions.

Mr Law also wrote to the council’s chief executive Anne Donaghy seeking clarification.

The council was not available for comment on Saturday.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council took the decision to withdraw workers last Monday after receiving a threat assessment from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The council said it had carried out its own risk assessment and staff safety was its priority.

Physical checks were also temporarily suspended on most goods by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) at both Larne and Belfast.

It followed the appearance of graffiti in Larne on 21 January which referred to those involved in the work as targets.

There were also claims that staff car registrations had been recorded.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said there was nothing to indicate loyalist paramilitary involvement nor that registrations had been taken.

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly were told during the week that former agriculture minister Edwin Poots was central to the decision to temporarily suspend physical checks and that he “was not convinced that the PSNI had a full understanding of the risk”.

Bournemouth beach huts broken into and set on fire

Thirty beach huts have been broken into and five set on fire on a beach that contains some of the most expensive huts ever sold in the UK.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue were called just before 03:00 GMT following reports of a fire at Mudeford Spit on Saturday.

Three huts were totally destroyed by fire, Dorset Police said nobody was inside at the time.

Beach huts in the area have previously sold for £275,000.

The BBC spoke to owners who came to the beach to survey the damage to the huts at the end of Hengistbury Head.

Glen Tizzard said his hut was broken into and the door pulled off.

Dr Joan Robinson Harris, who’s hut was left unharmed, described it as a “scene of devastation”.

She said: “Normally its a beautiful place where people holiday with their families.

“It’s absolutely devastating and it’s most unpleasant.”

A police cordon is currently in place, the force said. Detectives are appealing for witnesses and CCTV footage but it did not know whether anything was stolen.

Det Insp Andrew Kennard said: “There has been considerable damage caused to a large number of beach huts and I would like to reassure the community that we are carrying out detailed enquiries into the incident.

“I am appealing to anyone who was in the area and either witnessed what happened or saw any suspicious activity to please get in touch.”

Westbury crash: Woman, 18, dies and three teenagers injured

An 18-year-old woman has died and three other teenagers have been injured in a car crash.

The woman was a passenger in a Ford Fiesta which left The Mead in Westbury, Wiltshire, and hit a garden wall and a tree at about 23:40 GMT on Friday.

Its driver, a 19-year-old man, was seriously injured and remains at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

Two other occupants – a woman, 18, and a girl, 17 – have “significant” injuries and also remain in hospital.

The Mead, near the roundabout with the A350, was closed following the accident but reopened at about 10:00 GMT on Saturday.

Insp Andrew Lemon, of Wiltshire Police, said: “This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the girl’s family and friends at this extremely difficult time.

“I ask that their privacy is respected and our investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collision is ongoing.”

West Belfast: Pedestrian Richard Gerard Boyle dies in hit-and-run collision

A pedestrian has died after a hit-and-run collision in west Belfast on Friday night.

Richard Gerard Boyle, 42, was struck by a vehicle on the Stewartstown Road just before 22:20 GMT.

Police said the vehicle failed to stop at the scene. Mr Boyle, who was from Dunmurry, County Antrim, was taken to hospital where he later died.

The Stewartstown Road has since reopened after being closed following the incident.

PSNI Insp Phillip McCullough appealed to anyone who was on the Stewartstown Road between 21:30 and 22:30 GMT, or who might have dashcam footage, to contact police.

Jean Bayless: Tributes paid to West End Sound of Music actress

The star of the original West End production of The Sound of Music has died, her family said.

Actress Jean Bayless starred in the role of Maria in the show in 1960, and also played the role of Mrs Cunningham in the soap opera Crossroads.

The 88-year-old died on Friday in Birmingham, after being diagnosed with bone cancer, her nephew Richard Johnson said.

Mrs Bayless’s son Daniel said she was an “amazing woman”.

She married David Johnson while performing in New York in about 1955, taking over from Julie Andrews in the Broadway production of The Boyfriend, her nephew said.

The couple had first met while she was performing at the Theatre Royal in Birmingham.

The pair were living in Edgbaston, Richard Johnson said, when she got the call to fly to New York to audition for the role of Maria, later performed by Julie Andrews in the 1965 film.

“She was auditioned for the Sound of Music by [composer] Richard Rodgers himself,” son Daniel Johnson said.

“He said ‘You’re the girl I want for my new show’ and away she went.

“She continued to work and sing her little heart out all her life.”

Mrs Bayless is survived by her sons, Daniel and Adam, and five granddaughters.

“She was a very gregarious and hospitable person, a very cool woman,” Daniel Johnson said.

“If there were more people like her it would make the world a happier place.

Richard Johnson added: “Absolutely everybody that ever met her, even for 10 minutes, will never forget her.

“She was the most gorgeous wonderful person.

“It was an absolute privilege to have her as a wonderful, wonderful member of her family as long as we have.”

Christopher Plummer: Hollywood pays tribute to one of the greats

Hollywood stars have paid tribute to Christopher Plummer, the Canadian actor who has died aged 91.

Dame Julie Andrews, who starred alongside Plummer in The Sound of Music, said he was a “consummate actor” and a “cherished friend”.

The Oscar-winner was also praised as “an extraordinary man” and “completely free, kind and funny”.

Plummer was best known as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, but his career flourished later in life.

He was nominated for numerous awards. He won an Oscar in 2012 for the film Beginners, and was also nominated in 2010 and 2018.

Plummer also won two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Bafta.

He died peacefully at his home in Connecticut on Friday with his wife Elaine Taylor at his side, reports said.

“The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend,” Dame Julie said in a statement. “I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humour and fun we shared through the years.”

Lou Pitt, his long-time friend and manager of 46 years, described Plummer as “an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession”.

“He was a national treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots,” he continued. “He touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come.”

Some of Plummer’s most well-known films include The Insider, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Knives Out, and A Beautiful Mind.

Chris Evans, who starred with Plummer in Knives Out, said: “What an unbelievable loss. Few careers have such longevity and impact.

“One of my favourite memories from Knives Out was playing piano together. He was a lovely man and a legendary talent,” he added.

The film’s director, Rian Johnson, said Plummer was “a living legend who loved his craft” and “an absolute gentleman”.

In an Instagram post, Knives Out star Ana de Armas said “my heart is broken”.

“Thank you always for your laughter, your warmth, your talent… the vitamins when I got sick, your patience, your partnership and your company,” she wrote alongside a picture of the pair on set.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, said Plummer had “beguiled audiences across generations”.

And Bafta added its condolences, praising his “amazing work since the 50s”.

“We’ve lost one of our most iconic and beloved actors,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “[He] gave life to so many characters we love and cherish.”

He added: “On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, his friends, and his many fans.”