NFL exec: Team in London ‘clearly’ not happening soon

CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

Let loose: Sir Donald Sinden has a sparkling way with an anecdote By Laura Thompson Comments A lovely documentary series, Great West End Theatres, is currently showing on Sky Arts. The first set of 10 programmes, now being broadcast, is also scheduled to be repeated and is available on DVD. The intention is to trace the history of every major theatre in London: 40 programmes in all. The series is made by the actor and director Marc Sinden. Its star, and it transpires the best documentary frontman of all time, is his actor father: Sir Donald Sinden, 90 years old next month. Sir Donald has been let loose, offering anecdotes and memories apparently as they occur to him, and the effect is enchanting beyond belief. It is also, at times, incredibly funny. In the programme about the Palace Theatre, the former music hall which has just become home to The Commitments, he somehow found his way to giving an imitation of Sir Donald Wolfit, who when he took his bow would clutch the curtain, as if for support, in a pantomime of actorly fatigue. He would even do this, said the other Sir Donald, in his ripe conspirators whisper, when he had played Shylock, who of course has been offstage for the whole of Act V! And still he would clutch the curtain, too exhausted to stand! One has the sense of a lifetime spent in this world, being poured out for our delight like glasses of vintage champagne. And what becomes clear is how much better documentaries are when they have no (dread word) angle. Somebody whether it be Sir Donald on the theatre, or Simon Schama on the history of the Jews faces the camera and tells a story that they know inside out. That is really all you need. Great West End Theatres is financed privately, in order that artistic control can be maintained, and this shows in every loving, angle-free moment.

epa03871453 A rescue worker climbs across a line to help trapped people in Chailpanchingo, Mexico, 17 September 2013. According to media reports, Hurricane Ingrid was downgraded to a tropical storm but continued to pour heavy rain over eastern Mexico, where it killed at least 34 people.  EPA/LENIN OCAMPO TORRES

GOODELL: Speaks out on Goldson appeal Tickets for both games at Wembley Stadium, which holds 84,500 for American football, were virtual sellouts within two weeks, Parsons said. A restricted number of “season tickets” that gave fans tickets for both games were the first to go. “The data that we’ve collected over the past four years really has shown our fan base has grown exponentially,” said Parsons, a UK native who grew up listening to NFL games on Armed Forces Radio and has been working with the league for five years. “When we stack ourselves up against sports in the UK, depending on what metric you’re looking at, we’ve gone from well outside the top 10 to now inside the top 10 in terms of fan numbers and in terms of viewing figures.” Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said data shows the fan base has doubled since 2007, with 11.3 million people in the UK (population: about 63.1 million as of the 2011 census) now identifying themselves as NFL fans. “There is a hardcore following,” said Bagley, who traveled with a group of Vikings officials for last year’s international series game between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams. “They love the NFL, and they love the real thing not preseason games, not World League of American Football. They love the real, competitive, intense drama of NFL football.” Parsons offered a more conservative estimate. But he confirmed the number of UK fans is in the “multiple millions” even when excluding those who, for instance, only watch the Super Bowl. “We really target in on those,” Parsons said, “and there’s well over 2 million of those that we’ve identified in the UK, and we have a significant proportion of those in our NFL database and we communicate with them frequently. We know a significant portion of those will also watch the games week-in, week-out, and buy all of our products.” The league also has offices in Canada, Mexico and China, plus a significant presence in Japan. The Buffalo Bills have played a regular-season game per season in Toronto since 2008. The 49ers and Arizona Cardinals played in Mexico City in 2005. A preseason game in Shanghai could be next. But there is heavy focus on the UK market, where the Wembley event itself is the highest-grossing merchandise day that exists for any event in the country, Parsons said.

Tracing London’s theatrical history

Let loose: Sir Donald Sinden has a sparkling way with an anecdote

But urban archaeologists planned for half a dozen years for the Crossrail project . They created computer models that examined the new 73-mile network in the light of historical records and ancient maps to target the most tantalizing sites for digs. And thus far, going underground in a city with a decidedly checkered past has not been for the fainthearted. A stones throw from Londons Smithfield meat market, for example, excavation crews in March made an unappetizing discovery what is believed to be one of the citys two great graveyards for victims of the 14th-centurys Black Death. The victims buried near Smithfield once lived in a cesspool of a city ridden with rats, fleas and open sewers before dying in the first wave of a plague that would depopulate Europe for centuries. Now, their remains are being analyzed by British scientists, who are attempting to map the DNA of the London plague and establish whether it matches the strands that brought a horrific, early end to millions on the continent. The plague bodies, however, hail from a relative yesterday compared with other discoveries emerging from the reverse hourglass of dig sites. In this city that started life as a backwater outpost of the Roman Empire, a days work this week in the financial district yielded a stunning fragment of bright-orange pottery at least 1,500 years old. Archaeologists have also come a step closer to filling in the map of Roman Londinium, discovering the massive wooden stakes of an old Roman road. It ran along a stream where steel and glass now rise from the earth. Farther east and deeper back in history, diggers found evidence of Mesolithic Londoners who established a 9,000-year-old flint factory for making blades. They hunted by the marshy Thames long before the big game in this town became the primal stalking of stocks and bonds, mergers and acquisitions.