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The Independent Culture
Cheatdown

Serious allegations about the probity of the makers of Countdown have been made by Matthew Parris. Mr Parris claims that celebrity guests are given the answers to anagrams through their ear-pieces by the production team. At least they aren't asked to impersonate transvestites or serial adulterers. Channel 4 admits that guests get help. This is a bit upsetting. Some of us considered Richard Whiteley, Countdown's anchorman, to be the only broadcaster we could trust. Could his fabled wit not be his own? This is the man, after all, who said in an interview with The Independent's own Deborah Ross that he likes living in Wensleydale because "Americans never know where Wensleydale is, so I tell them it's between Tuesleydale and Thursleydale". No one, let us pray, had to help him with that particular gag.

Roach city

Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered that cockroaches can run 3ft per second (the equivalent of a human hitting 90mph) and twist and turn 25 times at the same moment. Did you also know that: females mate only once, producing about 280 offspring; roaches carry up to 40 diseases; and the median number of roaches found in a low-income apartment in Gainesville, Florida, is 13,000? They even eat GM food. How about a pet? The roach of choice these days is the Madagascan hissing cockroach. It grows to 2-3in long and 1in wide. It hisses by forcibly expelling air through breathing pores when disturbed, and during courtship and aggressive encounters. "There is nothing like the purring of a contented pet hisser on your belly", as one fan says. Just so long as it doesn't get frisky.

Barely adequate

A Babylonian tale from Hollywood. Dr Steven Hoefflin, a cosmetic surgeon, has been at the centre of a court case this week. It was claimed that Sylvester Stallone asked Dr Hoefflin to make his unconscious girlfriend's breasts "big, but kinda perky, kinda like a 17-year-old". Stallone issued his instructions when he walked, uninvited, into the operating theatre where Angela Everhart was anaesthetised. A Sly move, but hardly a wise one. When Miss Everhart discovered what had happened, she had the implants and Stallone removed from her life.

Image of the week

The Mirror produced this memorable montage at the height of the GM food palaver. Remember, Tony thinks it's safe.

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