The announcement took place in what looked and sounded like the opening night of a provincial nightclub. The darkened room, packed full of journalists, was filled with flashing blue lights and deafening techno which then segued into Brazilian beats to announce that the main act had arrived. The big video screens behind the desk at the front of the room flashed into life. “Welcome to Paris, Neymar Jr,” read the message.
In July 2017 the UK’s Office of National Statistics revealed that the British film industry was the second largest contributor to UK economic growth in the services sector, growing 8.2 percent in the previous quarter alone. To see what was driving Brit-flick success, in DG #28 we looked at the biggest films officially defined as “British” by the British Film Institute over the past 15 years.
The line between the living and the dead at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is unexpectedly blurred. The complex, located in central Pyongyang, is often described as the holiest place in North Korea, a cross between a museum, a mausoleum and Mecca. It is dizzyingly vast. Once you pass through the reverentially quiet and beautifully landscaped gardens and their waterways filled with koi carp, you enter the huge palace to be met by dozens of soldiers and security officers.
There are a set of strict rules that must not be broken. A tie must be worn before you embark on the long journey along kilometres of marble corridors and slow-moving travelators. No electronic equipment, magnets or bank cards may be carried, and no photographs may be taken. Dust, too, is on the prohibited list. Rows of machines blowing sharp columns of air blast each visitor clean as they pass through into the inner sanctum.
At 12 noon on Monday 21st August 2017, Big Ben – the 161-year-old Great Bell inside the UK Parliament’s iconic clock tower – chimed its last before being taken out of commission for four years. As MPs wept patriotic tears outside the Palace of Westminster, we asked what could have led to this most egregious state of affairs? The answer, as our ‘Butterfly effect’ infographic from DG #28 illustrates, is 1066 and all that…
Transfer fees officially lost touch with reality on Tuesday 7th February 1922. “When will this folly on the part of football clubs come to an end?” demanded the Football Post. But it wasn’t describing a transfer by the big boys of the game – the Sheffield Uniteds or Preston North Ends. This was Falkirk FC, a team from a small town in central Scotland, who had just paid West Ham United a world record £5,000 for an England international called Sydney Puddefoot. “What is to be the limit?” continued the Post’s indignant editorial. “Is there to be a limit?”
Around a century later, it’s safe to say that if there is to be a limit, we haven’t reached it.
On 6th July 2017, the Lynx UK Trust announced it will apply for a trial to reintroduce lynxes to the wild. The project would be part of a global trend of rewilding – reintroducing species known to be extinct in a particular area. It has been 1,300 years since the big cats roamed wild in Britain – our infographic below illustrates how long six other animals waited for their comebacks.
The conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on 25th August 2017 sparked violence as the spiritual guru’s followers took to the streets. At least 38 people died and hundreds were injured in clashes with police in cities throughout northern India.
Most of the fighting was in the city of Panchkula, where an estimated 100,000 followers had gathered in anticipation of the verdict in the local courthouse. It took a total of 15 years to convict Singh, the flamboyant ‘godman’ (a colloquial Indian term for a charismatic guru) leader of controversial spiritual organisation Dera Sacha Sauda, for the sexual assault of two female followers at the sect’s headquarters in Haryana state in 1999.
On July 19th 2017 the BBC published the salaries of its highest earning stars for the first time, raising eyebrows across the UK – along with questions, both from the media and in parliament, about exactly how much national treasures are worth. In DG #28 we decided to put top broadcasters’ remuneration in context, calculating how many nurses, soldiers, prime ministers and politicians fit inside one BBC presenter’s pay packet…
Nine-year-old Maisa Abdiram runs along the beach with her friends, eyes sparkling, long brown hair flying, a huge grin plastered across her face. Dancing from foot to foot, she and her friends giggle uproariously as they dodge through the gigantic jellyfish which the crashing waves have scattered among the assorted flotsam on the sand.
The sea has been uncommonly rough for the last few days, delaying the start of the much-anticipated swimming season.
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