Monthly Archives: December 2018

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Bendigo’s big issue: obesity

Bendigo Health director of medicine Dr Mark Savage pictured with a bariatric bed. Picture: JODIE WIEGARDFORTY rooms at the new Bendigo hospital will be kitted out to treat patients weighing up to 300 kilograms as thewaistlines of residents of’s heaviestregioncontinue to expand.

Bendigo Health director of medicine Mark Savage said Bendigo’s obesity problem brought with it a suite of problems.

“The more obesity you have, the more cancer there is, the more diabetes, the more heart disease, the more costs for society as a whole,” he said.

Dr Savagesaid hospital resources were being diverted to deal with obese patients.

“We need to have extra nurses on shift when we have bariatric patients,” he said.

“We need to rent special beds, we have to take nurses off other duties to help move the patients. Even if it’s only for five or 10 minutes, it disrupts their work patterns.”

Some patients presenting at Bendigo Health are so big health staff are unable to perform CT scans because the tables can’t handle their weight. Some patients can’t fitinside MRI machines.

Advanced life support educator Tracy Kidd said medical staff needed to be specially trained to resuscitate obese patients.

To give chest compressions to a normal-sized adult, health staff use roughly 40 kilograms of downward force.Obese patients can require 60 kilograms of force or more, increasing the possibility of injuries to staff.

Practising resuscitation on an obese-sized dummy. Picture: SUPPLIED

Ms Kidd said obese patients were athigher risk of needing resuscitation because they were more likely to experience cardiac arrest.

“It’s something we need to plan forward for because it requires more people. Even putting in an intravenous line isn’t as simple because we need longer cannulas,” she said.

Bendigo Health safe manual handling co-ordinator Stephen Morley has been nursing for 24 years and said patients were getting fatter all the time.

“When I started, you would be lucky to see a patient of 120 kilograms. Now we’re dealing with patients up to 200 kilograms routinely and we get patients presenting up to 300 kilograms,” he said.

“Obesity brings a whole lot of other problems as well; osteoarthritic problems, fertility problems, mobility, social problems, psychological problems, diabetes.It’s just a snowball effect and once one starts, the others follow,” he said.

In the Loddon-Mallee-Murray region, which takes inBendigo, Echuca and Swan Hill, 41 per cent of adults are obese.

Seventy per cent of adults in the region are considered overweight, with a body mass index of 25 or more.

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More than a third of world’s coral reef faces major bleaching event

A before and after image of coral bleaching in American Samoa, with the right image taken in December 2014 Photo: XL Catlin Bleaching on reefs in American Samoa. Photo: XL Catlin

The Great Barrier Reef shown in healthy conditions. Photo: n Institute of Marine Science

A massive, global coral bleaching event is underway which could affect 38 per cent of the world’s reefs by year’s end, including the Great Barrier Reef, scientists have revealed.

The consortium of researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US, the University of Queensland, Reef Check, and XL Catlin Seaview Survey says the mass bleaching – only the third of its kind in recorded history – is being driven by increased ocean temperatures.

NOAA has estimated the event may kill more than 12,000 square kilometres of reef worldwide.

The rise in the ocean temperatures is being caused by the background warming from climate change made worse by this year’s super El Nino weather event, and a Pacific warm water mass known as “the Blob”, the researchers say.

The extent of the damage to ‘s World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef was not yet known, but it will become obvious by early 2016, University of Queensland Global Change Institute Director, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, said in a statement.

“If conditions continue to worsen, the Great Barrier Reef is set to suffer from widespread coral bleaching and subsequent mortality, the most common effect of rising sea temperatures,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

Coral bleaching occurs when stressed corals exude an algae, zooxanthellae, which lives inside their tissue. After it is expelled, the bright, white skeleton of the coral is left exposed. They can, but do not always, die as a result of the bleaching.

According to the NOAA-led researchers, coral reefs support one quarter of all marine species and a mass bleaching event can “severely deplete” the ecosystems that rely on them.

In 1998, more than half of the Great Barrier Reef experienced bleaching and up to 10 per cent of its corals died. That was the world’s first, major recorded event of its kind and it killed 16 per cent of the globe’s corals.

The second event, five years ago, did not affect the Great Barrier Reef partly because two local cyclones helped to drive down ocean temperatures.

But this year so far, bleaching has already been recorded across the northern Pacific, Indian, and western Atlantic Oceans. It is expected to become obvious in the Caribbean in the next few weeks.

Bleaching only reaches a “global event” stage when all three major ocean basins are affected across multiple reefs spanning 100 kilometres or more, XL Catlin Seaview Survey said.

“This is only the third time we’ve seen a global-scale bleaching event,” NOAA Coral Reef Watch coordinator Dr Mark Eakin said in a statement.

Dr Tyrone Ridgway, from UQ’s Global Change Institute, said the severity of any impact on ‘s iconic Great Barrier Reef will depend on how long the higher-than-average ocean temperatures last.

“As we move into summer, these temperatures are expected to rise even more,” he told Fairfax Media.  “If we get coral mortality, the health of the system will decline.”

As corals are the “builders” of the Reef, this would affect fish stocks as well as tourism.

Surface waters of the equatorial central and eastern Pacific – where the El Nino has formed – are as much as 4 degrees warmer than average, while deeper gauges are detecting anomalies of 7 degrees.

Daughter charged stabbing murder of mother, 73

A WOMAN, 73, allegedly killed by her daughter at Redhead on Saturday was an advocate and volunteer for mental health services in the Hunter.

Gail Parnell was found dead inside her home at The Sanctuary mobile home park on Kalaroo Road about 6.30pm. She had suffered multiple stab wounds in an alleged frenzied attack by her daughter, Keren Parnell, 36.

Gail’s husband, John Parnell, suffered minor injuries, including scratches and bruises to both arms, police said. He was taken to John Hunter Hospital but later discharged.

Keren Parnell, of New Lambton, was arrested at the home and later charged with murder, using an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence and detaining a person with intent to obtain an advantage and cause actual bodily harm.

She did not leave the courthouse cells or apply for release in Newcastle Bail Court on Sunday morning.

Her legal aid solicitor said Keren Parnell had ‘‘significant mental and physical health issues’’ and asked for her to be seen by a nurse while in custody.

Her matter was adjourned to Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

Police have also applied for an apprehended violence order on behalf of Mr Parnell against his daughter. Both parents had been board members for the Association of the Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI) Hunter.

The Redhead house where a woman, 73, was stabbed to death.

The organisation aims to provide support services for the families and carers of people with a mental illness.

ARAFMI committee treasurer Garry Fowkes was deeply shocked to hear of Gail Parnell’s death.

Mr Fowkes said she had been a board member for some years and had acted as a carer to two of her children and her husband after he had a stroke a few years ago.

‘‘She was a beautiful, gentle, caring person,’’ Mr Fowkes said. ‘‘That’s the best way to sum her up.’’

Saturday was World Mental Health Day and October is Mental Health Month in NSW.

Mr Fowkes said ARAFMI had been organising the annual mental health walk of pride for October 24.

‘‘We start at Pacific Park and walk down Hunter Street into Civic Park to celebrate how far we’ve come with destigmatising mental illness,’’ Mr Fowkes said.

‘‘For this sort of thing to happen to one of our members so close to that event is going to be heartbreaking,’’ he said.

It’s believed Mr and Mrs Parnell moved to the Redhead mobile-home park from Swansea about five months ago.

Residents of The Sanctuary park said it was generally Redhead’s most peaceful place.

Popular with retirees, it is home only to permanent residents.

It’s the sort of place where residents leave their doors unlocked to go for a walk. When a throng of ambulances burst through the park gates on Saturday afternoon, residents thought someone had suffered a heart attack.

Then word spread that a crime scene was being set up. ‘‘It was such a shock,’’ one resident said. ‘‘I feel so sorry for the family. It’s a very sad situation.’’

The park encourages a social atmosphere, but the Parnells preferred to keep to themselves during the few months they lived there, neighbours said.

‘‘If you walked past them they would say g’day and that’s about it,’’ one resident said.

The Herald, Newcastle

need2know: Weak lead from Wall St

Local shares appear set to open lower to start the week as the global rally lost some momentum in trading on Wall Street on Friday.

What you need2know

SPI futures down 18pts at 5249

AUD at 73.34 US cents, 88.07 Japanese yen, 64.51 Euro cents and 47.81 British pence

On Wall St, S&P 500 flat, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq +0.%

In Europe, Stoxx 50 +0.8%, FTSE +0.7%, CAC +0.5%, DAX +1%

Spot gold up $US17.52 or 1.5% to $US1156.53/ounce

Brent crude down 51 US cents or 1% to $US52.54/barrel

Iron ore adds 0.1% to $US56.01/tonne

What’s on today

lending finance, credit and debit card lending; US Columbus Day holiday – US stock markets open, bond markets closed; The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries publishes its Monthly Oil Market Report in Vienna; London Metal Exchange Chief Executive Officer Garry Jones and Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing CEO Charles Li are among speakers at the LME Metals Seminar, kicking off LME Week in London.

Stocks in focus

Bell Potter has a “buy” on Macquarie Group and a target price of $91.50 a share, both unchanged. Goldman Sachs retains a “neutral” on Macquarie Group.

Goldman Sachs has a “neutral” recommendation on Medibank Private and a target price of $2.65 a share, up 6 per cent. “We expect MPL to remain focused on reducing the growth in claims given the demographic headwinds it faces. We forecast gross margin to improve only modestly in the medium term (13.9 per cent in FY18, up from 13.6 per cent in FY15).”

Macquarie Wealth Management has an “outperform” on Westfield Corp and a price target of $12.13 a share.


A “persistent” weakening of the yuan would be inconsistent with the fundamentals of the world’s second-biggest economy, and the country is committed to making its currency regime more flexible and market based, said People’s Bank of China deputy governor Yi Gang said at the International Monetary Fund annual meetings in Lima.  The yuan has fallen 2.1 per cent against the US dollar since August 11, when the central bank announced steps to put the currency more in line with market forces.

The Bank of England suggested that inflation could remain below 1 per cent until the spring of 2016, which is longer than anticipated, writes Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy for BK Asset Management.


Iron ore capped the biggest weekly increase since the start of August as traders and steel mills in China sought to replenish inventories after returning after a week-long break. Ore with 62 per cent content delivered to Qingdao rose 5.4 per cent this week, the largest gain since the five days to August 7, according to Metal Bulletin Ltd. Prices climbed 0.1 per cent to $US56.01 a dry metric ton on Friday.

Zinc surged 12 per cent to a two-month peak on Friday and other base metals also rose strongly after commodities group Glencore said it would cut its zinc output by a third, sparking a short-covering rally across the board. Zinc’s jump, its biggest one-day gain in at least a decade, followed Glencore’s announcement that it will cut 500,000 tonnes of annual zinc production, equivalent to around 4 per cent of global supply, in its latest response to weak commodities prices.

London Metal Exchange three-month zinc shot up to an intraday peak of $US1875 a tonne, a gain of 12.5 per cent. That was its highest price since August 11 and its biggest single-day gain in Reuters data, which goes back to mid-2005. It closed up 10.1 per cent at $US1835. Zinc prices sank to their lowest in over five years at $US1601.50 late last month, partly on an overhang of inventories.

United States

US stocks rose, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posting its strongest weekly gain this year, as equities continued to rebound from their worst quarter since 2011. The S&P 500 had a weekly gain of 3.3 per cent, its best week since December. For the week, the Dow rose 3.7 per cent while Nasdaq rose 2.6 per cent.

Shares advanced Friday without the help of energy and raw-material companies, the two best-performing groups so far this month, as energy snapped its longest winning streak in six years. Apple added 2.4 per cent to boost technology shares. Alcoa slumped 6.8 per cent to weigh on commodity related companies.

“Policy makers are trying to be prudent with policy, but not panicking over the global outlook,” said Brian Jacobsen, who helps oversee $250 billion as chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. “We’ll see whether or not we can hold above 2,000 in the S&P 500 and build from here ahead of earnings.”


A rally in mining shares buoyed European stocks on Friday, sending them to their biggest weekly gain since July. Commodity companies climbed for a ninth day, the longest streak since 2000. Zinc producer Boliden jumped 13 per cent after Glencore cut its output of the metal by a third, while ArcelorMittal and Anglo American gained 6 per cent or more. Glencore gained, taking its weekly surge to a record 36 per cent.

In London, BHP Billion added 4.32 per cent and Rio Tinto rose 3.15 per cent. Miners represented six of the top 10 performers on the FTSE 100.

Norsk Hydro gained 5 per cent after signing a letter of intent to acquire Vale’s 40 per cent stake in Brazilian bauxite producer Mineracao Rio do Norte.

What happened on Friday

The ASX rose for the fifth straight day to enjoy its best week since December 2011, thanks to a stunning reversal in fortunes among energy stocks and bets the US Federal Reserve will delay its interest rate hiking cycle. The S&P/ASX 200 added 69 points, or 1.3 per cent, on Friday to close at 5279.7, or 4.5 per cent higher for the week. The broader All Ordinaries index gained 1.3 per cent on Friday and 4.3 per cent over the five sessions at 5309.2.

Among the blue-chips, BHP was up 2.4 per cent on Friday and 13.3 per cent for the week to $25.60, while Rio Tinto was up 3.7 per cent for the day and 13.2 per cent for the week.

The El Nino crisis you’ve never heard of

You’d think that with the Ebola outbreak, the Syrian refugee crisis and the Nepal Earthquake we’ve had enough gut-wrenching humanitarian emergencies for one year. But a fresh crisis is brewing in the Horn of Africa and the cause is very familiar to ns: El Nino.

The warming sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean – dubbed El Nino – is causing dryer than usual conditions in eastern . On Thursday the Bureau of Meteorology warned its impact is likely to intensify in the months ahead stoking the risk of drought and bushfire. This El Nino is so strong it has been described as “Godzilla” and much of the country has already experienced scorching October temperatures. But El Nino is also playing havoc in the Horn of Africa. It has been blamed for the failure of crucial mid-year rains across vast swathes of Ethiopia triggering what the United Nations calls a “slow onset” emergency.

The number estimated to be in need of emergency food assistance in drought-stricken regions of Ethiopia has surged from 4.5 million to about 7.5 million since August. More than 300,000 children are already severely malnourished and the UN warns that 15 million people could need assistance by next year. Food shortages are set to worsen over the next six months as the El Nino event keeps large parts of the country dry well into 2016. In neighbouring Somalia a further 855,000 people are reportedly in need “life-saving assistance” and the UN warns 2.3 million more people there are “highly vulnerable”.

It’s only four years since I witnessed first-hand how devastating drought in the Horn of Africa can be. In mid-2011 I travelled to the Dadaab refugee camp near Kenya’s border with Somalia to report on the food crisis gripping the region. The massive camp had been swamped by tens of thousands of destitute Somali farming families desperate for food and water. I was shocked by how many malnourished children were not receiving help.

In an attempt to highlight this I visited a group of newly arrived families living in makeshift humpies on the outskirts of the camp and asked if I could check the nutritional status of their young children. I did this by measuring the circumference of the children’s mid-upper arm – one indicator of undernourishment.

Within a few hours I had identified about a dozen badly malnourished children under five years who were not receiving any medical treatment. It was frustrating that better assistance was not available – if I could find these needy children surely the international humanitarian system could? But the lack of resources in the camp was symptomatic of the sluggish donor response to the 2011 Horn of Africa food crisis.

That year aid agencies issued warnings months in advance that drought-affected communities were becoming more and more vulnerable. Yet the response was slow and indecisive. Things got so bad that famine was eventually declared in parts of Somalia. A report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health found more than 260,000 died during the food crisis, the majority of them children.

It looks like the trauma I witnessed four years ago is being repeated. The Ethiopian government is responding to the worsening food crisis but most international donors are yet to heed the warnings.

“It’s like everything we witnessed in 2011 is coming back again,” one frustrated aid worker in Ethiopia told me. “How on earth are we going to feed 7½ million people for six months because the next harvest is not until June? And how do we treat 300,000 kids with severe acute malnutrition? Not only is there no funding but we haven’t procured any food. Even if we had the money, the food procurement pipelines are long and slow … so we’ve found ourselves looking down the barrel of a gun – there’s simply no money and no food in the pipeline.”

Images of malnourished children and parched landscapes in the Horn of Africa are all too familiar. The great Ethiopian famine of 1984 shocked the world and even spawned a new style of celebrity activism with Band Aid in 1984 and the Live Aid concerts in 1985. But Ethiopia is a very different country to the one convulsed by famine in the mid-1980s. Like many other African nations it has experienced years of rapid modernisation and rising living standards.

Even so, the combination of a burgeoning population – which has grown by more than 40 per cent to about 100 million in the past decade – and a critical dependence on rain-fed agriculture means the country is still very exposed to drought. Aid workers based in the Horn of Africa say they can already see a trend towards weather extremes and are alarmed that its just four years since drought triggered a major humanitarian crisis in the region. It underscores how vulnerable the region is to the long-term effects of climate change.

“Parts of the Horn of Africa are already some of the driest places on Earth and they are likely to get dryer over time due to climate change,” said Robert Glasser, the former director general of aid agency Care International. “We’re seeing evidence of these changes already.”

The looming crisis in the Horn of Africa will put additional pressure on an international humanitarian system that is already overstretched. Aid groups are grappling with the enormous refugee crisis triggered by the Syrian conflict along with major emergencies in South Sudan, Iraq, Yemen and the Central African Republic. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are struggling to rebuild after the worst Ebola outbreak in history while in Nepal tens of thousands are still homeless and dependent on assistance following April’s devastating earthquake.

But a repeat of the 2011 Horn of Africa famine must not be allowed. It will test the generosity of wealthy nations like .

Rugby World Cup 2015: Wallabies won’t rest Israel Folau and David Pocock for Scotland clash

Israel Folau during a team recovery session in London on Sunday. Photo: Dan Mullan David Pocock stretches ahead of the Wales game at Twickenham. Photo: Dan Mullan

Injury cloud: The Wallabies say they won’t rest David Pocock this weekend. Photo: Paul Gilham

AC/DC song helped find the mojoBurning memory of Scotland defeatsCheika’s bag of tricks has firingLittle sacrifices have team firing Brutal punch floors French star

LONDON: The Wallabies will lay everything on the line against Scotland, adamant they will not rest star duo Israel Folau and David Pocock from the quarter-final showdown even if they are not fully fit.

Folau (ankle) and Pocock (calf) are the two biggest concerns facing the Wallabies this week following their heroic defensive effort in a 15-6 win against Wales last weekend.

Fullback Folau is expected to recover in time for the clash against Scotland, even if he is on minimal training duties this week to lighten the workload on his ankle problem.

Pocock’s challenge is bigger as Wallabies medical staff try to determine how bad his calf problem is. It’s understood the Wallabies are confident Pocock has not torn any muscles.

But the pain was enough to force the hard-nosed flanker off the field in the second half against Wales.

The Wallabies have fallen on the perceived weaker side of the finals draw, with a quarter final against Scotland. If they get through that, they will play either Ireland or Argentina.

But still burnt by losing two of their last three games against Scotland, the Wallabies defence coach Nathan Grey says they won’t hold anything back on Sunday (Monday morning AEDT).

“I think it’s been pretty clear that we go full-on every game we play. If you get the opportunity to wear that gold jersey, you take it and cherish it,” Grey said.

“When the [game-day squad] is selected, we’ll be picking every gun we’ve got. We know at this stage of the competition it’s do or die.”

The Wallabies will put faith in squad depth to see them through if either fails fitness tests later in the week.

Inside centre Matt Giteau also appeared to aggravate his rib injury, but is expected to be ready to play against Scotland.

Winger Rob Horne is also still with the squad after injuring his shoulder against England and hopes to train this week to prove he can still be a part of the campaign.

Michael Hooper will be back after serving a one-match suspension, while Kurtley Beale has been in superb form and will capably fill Folau’s shoes if needed.

In the past, the absence of two of ‘s biggest weapons – Folau and Pocock – would be a killer blow for the Wallabies’ hopes of winning the World Cup.

“[But] I think those guys came off and our finishers who came on really solidified the performance and all those guys in difficult circumstances were outstanding,” Grey said.

“It showed that to be consistent in this tournament, you’ve got to rely on your 30-man squad. That’s going to be evident moving through into the knockout stages.

“All teams go through injuries throughout the tournament and you have to rely on your whole squad. We’ve got a lot of confidence in the whole group … they go about delivering. It’s simple from that perspective

“When you put on that gold jersey it means a lot. And the expectation is you’ll be giving everything you can give.”

Beating Wales means the Wallabies avoid South Africa and New Zealand until a potential meeting in the final.

The try-less win will go down as one of the gutsiest performances in Wallabies history, as they repelled a seven-minute siege with just 13 players on the field.

Ireland bet France in the last pool match, meaning they will also avoid the South African and New Zealand side of the draw.

The defending champion All Blacks face a tough test against France in their quarter-final on the weekend.

Winger Drew Mitchell said being able to hold out Wales would boost the squad’s self-belief.

“It’s one thing speaking about it but we’ve been put in those situations in training and games, you need belief to get yourself out of those situations,” Mitchell said.

“You gain belief as you go through but you also need to go into games with a great deal of belief.”

“I think that’s something he’s (Cheika) very good at is instilling that belief in the squad and also within individuals to play his game and express yourself the way you do.

“We’ve been working very hard for a long time in our lead up and our campaign for those types of scenarios.

“We knew it was going to be tough and there was going to be pain out there tonight and when we were in those situations we almost bound together even stronger and worked even harder for each other.

“That’s something with Cheika and the coaching staff that he’s trying to instil in us but also something we would hope our spectators and supporters can see and engage with and buy into.

“We hope they see that, how much we’re working for it and how much it means to us.”


Quarter final one: South Africa v Wales at Twickenham, 2am Sunday AEDT.

Quarter final two: New Zealand v France at Cardiff, 6am Sunday AEDT.

Quarter final three: Ireland v Argentina at Cardiff, 11pm Sunday AEDT.

Quarter final four: v Scotland at Twickenham, 2am Monday AEDT.

You can be cruel like Kevin Spacey when you’re Shaun Micallef in The Ex-PM

Politics with an edge: Shaun Micallef (left) as Andrew Dugdale in The Ex-PM. Photo: ABCShaun Micallef’s new sitcom, The Ex-PM, slyly takes slices off Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne, George Bush, Bob Ellis, Barry Cassidy, Bronwyn Bishop and Alexander Downer in just the first two episodes. Why is it so vicious? Micallef purports to be shocked. “I was trying to be family friendly, mainstream and warm and you’re saying it’s turned into a version of what I’ve done for the last 20 years,” he says in a hurt tone.

Well, yes, although there’s also some well-paced farce, slapstick and a few drops of poignancy that show the influence of Micallef’s heroes Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Groucho Max, Neil Simon and Peter Sellers.

Micallef has been ‘s most successful political satirist of the 21st century (along with John Clarke, who also stars in The Ex-PM). His mockery certainly contributed to the loser image of Tony Abbott, while Bill Shorten is unlikely to recover from Micallef’s introduction of the term “zinger!” for his lame attempts at wordplay.

Micallef wrote the entire series of The Ex-PM singlehanded and says he didn’t want his portrayal of former statesman Andrew Dugdale to be a vehicle for mocking the current leaders of the nation.

“I’m hopeful you could watch it in 10 years’ time, or you could have watched it 10 years ago, and the observations would be applicable to whoever was in power at the time. We tried to have an equal representation across politics, from left and right, across the whole series, so you might have a little difficulty looking at him and saying which side of politics he’s on.”

But then again, he will admit that he takes some pleasure in the theatre of cruelty. “There’s a bit of an edge in it. The show that I’ve enjoyed most recently, maybe in the last three years, is House of Cards. I like Kevin Spacey as a performer and he’s got a really cruel edge to him. It’s apparent not just in House of Cards but in everything he does; there’s a cruel edge that I really like and I also find very funny. I’m not suggesting that Dugdale is as cruel and edgy as Spacey’s character, but there’s a certain pretension towards that. He’d like to see himself as a player.”

Does Micallef want viewers to like or dislike Andrew Dugdale? “It was a deliberate decision on my part to make sure he wasn’t too much of an ineffectual duffer. We do see that quite a lot in television shows. I personally am a bit over that. He can be a fool, he can take his eye off the ball, but rather than have him be stupid, I could have him being focused on something that isn’t helpful in the circumstances.

“The level of self-delusion isn’t the same as you see in a lot of shows. He does have moments of self-awareness but he’s probably overestimating what people might find interesting about him. One rule I had was when you see him get up and speak, he could believably have been prime minister. He’s not a complete idiot. It’s not a great stretch to see him as a normal human being that you could see elected.”

To ensure The Ex-PM was more “rounded” than his usual sketch shows, Micallef recruited actors rather than comedians.

“As we get to know the other characters, it becomes more of an ensemble piece,” he says. “Definitely it’s got a farce engine in it. But we had a drama director rather than a comedy director. Most of the actors are real actors rather than comedians. I don’t like working with other comedians. Maybe I feel like we’re all trying to go after the same bit of slippery soap. Actors are a little more disciplined than I am.”

Micallef is mainly out for laughs, but he hopes some viewers will find deeper meanings: “I’m speaking twice as fast as I would normally speak in real life. With the amount of lines I had, I really wanted to get them out at a clip. I figure if you’re doing three jokes at once, some people will pick one and some people will pick another. It’s a challenge to try and mix slapstick with jokes that require a bit of thought or a bit of knowledge to get the reference.”

And for the record, Micallef would like it known that he doesn’t have contempt for all politicians: “I admired the intentions and just the sheer gall of Whitlam. I also have a lot of time for Keating. And I look with interest and admiration at Malcolm Turnbull.” Until next year’s season of Mad As Hell, at least.

The Ex-PM starts on Wednesday, October 14, at 9pm on ABC1.

Kyle and Jackie O, Ross and John win top gongs at Chinan Commercial Radio Awards 2015

Kiis FM’s Kyle and Jackie Show won the best on-air FM team award for the fifth time. Photo: Supplied 3AW’s Ross Stevenson, left, and John Burns were named best on-air AM team for the fourth time. Photo: Source: Twitter

Amanda Keller and Brendan Jones claimed another ACRA for their syndicated program, My Generation. Photo: Supplied

The biggest names in commercial radio partied like it was 2013 at the industry’s annual awards on Saturday night.

Four of the n Commercial Radio Awards top honours – the equivalent of a silver or Gold Logie – were handed to the same winners from two years ago. Indeed, most of the class of 2013 – Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, Ross Stevenson and John Burns, Neil Mitchell, and Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller – already have a shelf groaning with ACRAs.

At the lavish Gold Coast function, hosted by actor and comedian Stephen Curry, The Kyle and Jackie O Show was named best on-air FM team for the fifth time since 2006. It’s the hosts’ first win since they defected from 2Day FM to Kiis FM, causing their former station’s ratings to plummet.

Despite Sandilands reputation for controversy, he’s (mostly) kept his nose clean at Kiis. Recently, the broadcasting watchdog dismissed a complaint prompted by him calling agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce a “wanker”, a “ponce” and a “gerbil of a thing” during an interview.

Melbourne’s top-rating breakfast team, Ross Stevenson and John Burns of 3AW*, won best on-air AM team, having taken out the prize in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Neil Mitchell, 3AW’s morning host – inducted into the ACRA Hall of Fame in 2007 – claimed best current affairs presenter for the fourth year running.

The weekly My Generation, also a 2013 victor, got another best syndicated n program gong. The show is hosted by WSFM’s popular breakfast presenters, Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller.

Ben Fordham of 2GB, who recently left Channel Nine’s Today show, got his second consecutive best talk presenter prize.

Triple M Sydney’s Paul Gallen, captain of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, won best newcomer on-air and Nova’s drive program Kate, Tim & Marty won best networked program.

Other major winners include Smooth FM’s Ron Wilson (best FM news presenter); FIVEaa’s Anne Stone (best AM news presenter); 3AW’s Tim Lane (best sports presenter); Nova’s Tim Blackwell (best music or entertainment presenter) and Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa (best community service project).

Veteran broadcaster and award-winning journalist Jeremy Cordeaux was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Cordeaux, now FIVEaa’s afternoon presenter, has spent more than five decades in print, television and radio.

The awards are organised by industry body Commercial Radio . A panel of judges – comprised of representatives from all radio networks, and from the advertising, marketing and engineering industries – chooses the winners.

*Fairfax Media, publisher of this article, owns or has interests in stations including 3AW, Magic, 4BC, 2GB, 2UE and 6PR. FULL LIST OF 2015 ACRA WINNERS

Note: category winners are denoted with the following letters: Country>Provincial>Non-Metropolitan>Metropolitan


Kyle & Jackie O Show; Kyle Sandilands & Jackie Henderson, KIIS 1065, Sydney NSW, n Radio Network M


3AW Breakfast; Ross Stevenson & John Burns, 3AW, Melbourne VIC, Macquarie Radio Network M


The Morning Rush; Jon Vertigan & Maria Foundas, 3YB, Warrnambool VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Galey, Ross & Charli for Breakfast; Paul Gale, Charli Robinson & Ross Wallman, Sea FM, Gold Coast QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P


Ashleigh Blucher; Power FM, Bega NSW, Grant Broadcasters C

Brad Wood; Sea FM, Central Coast NSW, Southern Cross Austereo P

Tim Blackwell; Nova Network, Nova Entertainment M


Kate O’Bree; 2BS, Bathurst NSW, Bathurst Broadcasters C

Mark Parton; 2CC, Canberra ACT, Capital Radio Network P

Ben Fordham; 2GB, Sydney NSW, Macquarie Radio Network M


Mark Parton; 2CC, Canberra ACT, Capital Radio Network NM

Neil Mitchell; 3AW, Melbourne VIC, Macquarie Radio Network M


Jock Brady; 3CS, Colac VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Phil Small; 2CC, Canberra ACT, Capital Radio Network P

Tim Lane; 3AW, Melbourne VIC, Macquarie Radio Network M


Country Today; Don Plenty, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

The Noise; Grant Broadcasters P

Kate, Tim & Marty; Kate Ritchie, Tim Blackwell & Marty Sheargold, Nova Entertainment M


My Generation; Authentic Entertainment


WSFM Pure Gold Campaign; ARN Marketing Team, WSFM, Sydney NSW, n Radio Network


Radio Datacast; Dale Sharp, Mix FM & Sea FM, Maroochydore QLD, EON Broadcasting NM

Nova’s Red Room Global Tour; Robert Zamora & John Pearce, Sydney NSW, Nova Entertainment M


Stephen Cenatiempo; 2NM, Muswellbrook NSW, Grant Broadcasters


Claire Humphery; Snow FM, Jindabyne NSW, Capital Radio Network C

Clare Todhunter; Sea FM, Central Coast NSW, Southern Cross Austereo P

Paul Gallen; Triple M, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M


Justine Blacklock; Star FM, Dubbo NSW, Southern Cross Austereo C

Hannah Schadel; Star FM, Gosford NSW, Nova Entertainment P

Sophie Azzopardi; 2day FM & Triple M 104.9, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M


2014 AFL Preliminary Final; The K-Rock Football Commentary Team, K-Rock, Geelong VIC, Grant Broadcasters NM

2014 AFL Grand Final; 3AW Football, 3AW, Melbourne VIC, Macquarie Radio Network M


Sarah Weir; Hot FM, Tablelands QLD, Southern Cross Austereo C

Rod McLeod; Gold FM, Gold Coast QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P


Ron Wilson; smoothfm, Sydney NSW, Nova Entertainment M


Anne Stone; Fiveaa, Adelaide SA, Nova Entertainment M


Triple M Modern Rock Digital; Jaime Chaux & Jacqui Kassulke, Adelaide SA & Perth WA, Southern Cross Austereo


Russell Torrance; Wave FM’s Hot Breakfast, Wave FM, Wollongong NSW, Grant Broadcasters NM

Laura Viglino; Jonesy & Amanda, WSFM, Sydney NSW, n Radio Network M


Eddie Williams; Canberra Live, 2CC, Canberra ACT, Capital Radio Network NM

Harriet Glenn; Sydney Live with Ben Fordham, 2GB, Sydney NSW, Macquarie Radio Network M


Gemma Maddox; Max FM, Taree NSW, Super Radio Network C

Kiri Martin; Sea FM, Gosford NSW, Southern Cross Austereo P

Georgina Ingham-Myers; Nova 96.9, Sydney NSW, Nova Entertainment M


Dave Drinkell; 3YB, Warrnambool VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Ross Turner; 7HO FM, Hobart TAS, Grant Broadcasters P

Mike Fitzpatrick; Triple M, Melbourne VIC, Southern Cross Austereo M


Raising the Rugrats Cup; Jon Vertigan, 3YB, Warrnambool VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Speak Up Granny; Luke Bradnam, Hot Tomato, Gold Coast QLD, Hot Tomato P

Peppa Pig Reboot; Dave Thornton, Jerimiah Busniak & Dan Anstey, Hit 101.9 Fox FM, Melbourne VIC, Southern Cross Austereo M


Newcastle Earthquake 25th Anniversary; Nick Blanch, David Dollin, Ross McClymont, Nik Lawson & Mark Brewer, KOFM, Newcastle NSW, Southern Cross Austereo NM

Diary Of An Anzac; Tony Peterson, Cameron Forsyth, Chris Gregson & Matthew Summerill, 2GB, Sydney NSW, Macquarie Radio Network M


Sophie Jackson; 3HA & Mixx FM, Hamilton VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Jaxson McLennan; Star FM, Gosford NSW, Nova Entertainment P

Sideshow Mike Andersen; Triple M, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M


OzMade for the 2014 ARIAs; Henry James, Sea FM, Devonport TAS, Grant Broadcasters C

Aussie Thongs Weekend; Al Dobie, Dennis Guthrie & Chris Crickmay, Gold FM, Gold Coast QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

Richard Wilkins & Michael Buble; Richard Wilkins, Peter Clay & Travis Evans, smoothfm, Nova Entertainment M


Sea FM & Mix FM Sales Team; Mix FM & Sea FM, Maroochydore QLD, EON Broadcasting NM

ARN Brisbane Agency Sales Team; KIIS Network, Brisbane QLD, n Radio Network M


Kim Kerton; Nova 100, Melbourne VIC, Nova Entertainment


Daniel Brewer; EasyMix 1467 AM, Mildura VIC, Grant Broadcasters C

Casey Gould; KOFM & NXFM, Newcastle NSW, Southern Cross Austereo P

Chelsea Teelow; hit107 & Triple M, Adelaide SA, Southern Cross Austereo M


Stiletto Boots; Mena Soliman & Tony Dean, 5RM, Riverland SA, Grant Broadcasters C

ShedBoss Joke; Nick Giesen & Jacinta Keally, Sea FM, Gladstone QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

Westspecs – Shart; Matt Dickson & Carl Step, Mix 94.5, Perth WA, Southern Cross Austereo M


East Coast Juices; Cameron Horn, David Horspool & Anna Cook, 2GO, Gosford NSW, Southern Cross Austereo NM

Bucket O Beef; Darren Russell & Eddie Bye, Fiveaa, Adelaide SA, Nova Entertainment M


Honda Lovin’; Bron Davey, Leilani Vakaahi, Benny Hope & Libby Daniewska, B-Rock, Bathurst NSW, Bathurst Broadcasters C

Galey, Ross & Charli’s $30k Buried Treasure; Emma Drennan, Andrea Hodgetts & Matt Innes, Sea FM, Gold Coast QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

Lion King FM; 973FM, Brisbane QLD, n Radio Network M


IKEA; Michael Dargan, Tim Ross and Alex Dalrymple, KIIS Network, n Radio Network


Sea FM Relaunch; Kasey Radatti, Sea FM, Maroochydore QLD, EON Broadcasting NM

Nova’s Insta Party; Jay Walkerden, Dee Curtis & Matt Jones, Nova 106.9, Brisbane QLD, Nova Entertainment M


Power Fm’s Schools Breakfast; Power FM, Muswellbrook NSW, Grant Broadcasters C

Room Rules; Hot FM, Townsville QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

Kyle & Jack Give Back Wedding; KIIS 1065, Sydney NSW, n Radio Network M


Stephanie Zalfelds; Sea FM & 2GO, Central Coast NSW, Southern Cross Austereo NM

Tim Dwyer; Triple M, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M


East Coast Radiothon for Snowy Hydro SouthCare; Kim Gardner, 2EC, Bega NSW, Grant Broadcasters C

i98FM’s Camp Quality Convoy; i98fm Convoy Team, i98 FM, Wollongong NSW, WIN Network P

Fitzy & Wippa’s Barry The Parody Bear; Ryan Fitzgerald, Michael Wipfli, Carlie Millican & Alison Eveleigh, Nova 96.9, Sydney NSW, Nova Entertainment M

Republican Party schism: Is the Tea Party leading the GOP into electoral oblivion

To the outside world the the dazzling buffoonery and extravagant self-regard of the Trump presidential campaign is the clearest indicator that the Republican Party might be travelling a dark path, perhaps to a dead end.

How could a man so clearly suited to reality TV and real estate rather than presidential authority be leading the polls in a race for the nomination for the Grand Old Party?

But in DC the clearest sign of the same malaise is not Trump’s early success, but the crucifixion of the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, and the party’s catastrophic failure to replace him at a vote this week.

In American politics, the House Speaker is a position of extraordinary stature. The Speaker is second in line of succession to the presidency after the Vice-President. And unlike the VP, the Speaker has real power.

As Speaker, Boehner is the highest elected member of his party; in effect if not title he is the Republican Party leader, at least until a candidate for the presidency is nominated.

He is also a man not unknown to express his emotions in public.

A fortnight ago Boehner, a Catholic, wept as he welcomed Pope Francis to the chamber to become the first ever pontiff to address a joint sitting of the US Congress, and an hour later he wept again as he escorted the Pope onto the Speaker’s Balcony of the Capitol Building to greet the 50,000 well-wishers who had gathered on the National Mall to greet him.

The following day he strode into a press conference room in the bowels of the Capitol singing, actually singing, “Zip a doo dah, zip a dee day,” and quit his miserable job.

Fear and loathing

Boehner ascended to the speakership in 2011. This was just after the 2010 midterm elections, which had resulted in a sweeping success for the Republican Party after it waged an all-out campaign against Barack Obama, and in particular against Obamacare.

When the votes were counted the Republican Party held control of both houses of Congress and 31 governorships across the country.

It had been a campaign marked by fear and loathing. Obama, it was said at town hall meetings set up by the Tea Party movement (attended by grassroots, but often quietly funded by anti-tax billionaires) across the country, was planning to set up death panels across the country to kill off the elderly.

The President, it was claimed by elements of this far-right movement, was variously a communist, an anti-colonialist Kenyan, a Muslim Manchurian candidate. (Indeed 43 per cent of Republicans still believe Obama is a Muslim.)

Looking back on how such nonsense took hold in the mindset of a major party, people point to different causes.

Some blame Fox News, which championed the Tea Party and gave voice to fringe elements. Some blame racism. Others point to fears stoked by the crippling recession that threatened to wipe out the livelihoods of a generation of working and middle-class Americans, particularly those of the manufacturing belt that had created the American century.

The same people felt threatened by rapidly changing demographics and mass immigration.

There is doubtless truth to all these explanations, but it is probably worth noting that mistrust of established politics and rising extremism has been a phenomenon experienced not just in America, but in Europe and to an extent in .

In any event, the effect on Congress was immediate and profound.

The incoming class of Republican congressmen and women in 2010 contained a hard-core minority that had campaigned not just on defeating Obama, but on defeating Washington itself.

The GOP establishment soon found the hardliners were utterly unmanageable, and that their demands were often radical enough that they threatened to do damage not only to the President’s agenda, but the Republican Party, and the very institution of Congress.

They sought not to govern, not even to oppose, but to wreck, to literally diminish the government and prevent it from going about its business.

They were and are loyal to the Republican Party only to the extent that they can harness the party to achieve these goals.

At first the gulf between the anti-government Tea Party and the small-government Republican establishment did not seem to be too great.

This was because the establishment had already embarked on a policy of total obstruction to all Obama initiatives. This strategy, which breaks with the modern American tradition, was settled upon at a meeting in a DC steakhouse called the Caucus Room held by the Republican strategist Frank Luntz and attended by GOP congressional leaders on the very day of Obama’s inauguration.

Those in attendance – including former speaker Newt Gingrich and future Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan – had just seen a crowd of a million people cheer on the National Mall as Obama swore his oath of office.

The sight had horrified them. Obama, they decided, presented an existential threat to the GOP, and he needed not only to be blocked, but discredited.

So at first the coalition between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment worked together in blocking the White House agenda.

The cracks started to show in 2011 when the Tea Party freshmen embarked on a strategy of hostage-taking.

Unless Obama agreed to their demands for tax cuts, the GOP would refuse to pass authority needed to allow the administration to pay the nation’s debts.

Plunging into default would be catastrophic, potentially putting the nation and the world back into the pits of the great recession they had not yet recovered from.

Just the threat of it was enough to prompt Standard & Poor’s to strip America of its AAA rating for the first time.

“The downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges,” the agency observed at the time.

Obama made concessions, and the debts were paid, but Obama vowed he would never again give in to a group that he said would take the nation’s economy hostage for their political gain.

And he never did, but the Tea Party never gave up on the tactic.

In 2013 it coerced Boehner into threatening to block monetary supply unless Obama repealed his signature healthcare reform. Obama refused and the government shutdown for 15 days in October, costing about $24 billion or, according to Standard & Poor’s, 0.6 per cent of annualised fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth.

The majority of the public rightly blamed the Republican Party.

A government employee protests over the shutdown at the US Capitol in 2013. Photo: Karen Bleier

This year the Tea Party right, now organised as the “Freedom Caucus”, is demanding that the Republican leaders shut down the government unless Obama pulls $US500 million federal government funding from Planned Parenthood, the reproductive health, non-profit organisation that provides healthcare – including abortions – to poor women across the country.

Boehner has refused, not because he has any love for Planned Parenthood – he is a pro-life Catholic – but because he knows the tactic will not work. He knows Obama will refuse, the government will shut down, the public will blame Republicans.

Two of the most respected scholars of Congress in Washington, DC, are Thomas Mann, of the Brookings Institution, and Norm Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute.

Writing in The Washington Post about a Congress that not only does nothing, but also tries to prevent anyone else from governing, Mann and Ornstein were unsparing: “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticised both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Some time this year, Boehner decided he had had enough. Though he was as conservative a man as had occupied his position in a generation or more, he spent his weeks being white-anted and heckled by Tea Party elements of his own party as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and his weekends travelling the country raising funds for them.

So after he met the Pope, Boehner announced his resignation – while singing – and the Freedom Caucus cheered another success.

Then, on Thursday, Republican members gathered to elect a new leader, and it was universally accepted that Kevin McCarthy, a man to the right of Boehner, would walk into the job.

Instead, he pulled his candidacy in the very meeting that was expected to elect him. There are two competing rumours about his resignation – one, that right-wing Republican elements planned to spread rumours that he had had an affair, and another that he had refused to bow to Tea Party demands that he again force a shutdown.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, pulls out of the race for Speaker. Photo: Drew Angerer

The chaos within the Republican Party in Congress is being amplified outside it.

With America congressional districts so effectively gerrymandered, Republican members and candidates no longer fear attack from the Democratic left, but from the Republican right.

This has led to the party becoming increasingly divorced from mainstream politics.

Views that once would have been considered radical are now orthodox in the GOP, and the new orthodoxy has taken hold in the presidential primaries, which have so far been dominated by Tea Party-style outsiders – people like Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Trump made his name in the Tea Party movement as a champion of the “birther movement”, claiming that Obama was ineligible to serve as president because he was not a true American citizen.

He has leveraged this into a presidential campaign built on a platform founded on three preposterous promises – that he can wall off Mexico, that he can make Mexico pay for that wall, and that the US can round up an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, detain them and then remove them.

Carson, who trails Trump, has made his political impact in the party not so much with preposterous promises but with preposterous statements: Obamacare is worse than slavery, the Holocaust was exacerbated by gun control, evolution is a fairytale.

Next in the polls comes Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, who leapt in the polling by reiterating false claims made about Planned Parenthood by a pro-life group.

They claim to have video evidence that Planned Parenthood profits by selling the body parts of babies born alive and then murdered. The claims have been dismissed as untrue by every fact-checking organisation that has waded through the hours of tape they have provided.

Carly Fiorina, former chairwoman and chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, is a 2016 Republican presidential candidate. Photo: Daniel Acker

Fiorina is unbowed by this evidence, and in this post-modern primary campaign she is being well rewarded for her dogged insistence that fiction is fact.

These three are being trailed by establishment candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. But even these two have bowed to the new orthodoxy.

Bush, son and brother of a president, insists he is a DC outsider, and like Rubio he rails against abortion and denies climate science.

Both have backed away from previous commitments to reform the immigration system, both have advocated tax cuts as the best means to address deficits, a policy dismissed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and described by Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, as “voodoo economics”.

Also in the mix is senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party champion whose strategy so far consists of appeasing Trump supporters in the hope he can scoop them up should Trump implode.

Cruz has gone so far in this effort as to endorse the conspiracy theory that swept the Republican right this year that under the guise of military exercises known as “Jade Helm”, Obama planned to use US Special Forces to invade Texas and imprison dissidents in Walmart outlets.

Cruz said the theory was worthy more study. “My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise,” he told Bloomberg.

So far most observers still predict the insurgent campaigns will fade out over the northern autumn and winter and candidates like Bush and Rubio will come to the fore. But it is unclear how much damage they will have done to the Republican brand in pandering to fringe elements to survive.

And in Congress itself the Freedom Caucus remains utterly unrepentant.

Asked what the renegades wanted to support a candidate for the Speaker’s chair, Dave Brat, the Virginian who took down former House majority leader Eric Cantor in 2014, said: “We want rules, policy, process. We want that on paper ahead of time.”

That is to say, they want the lot – they want total control of the House Republican Party.

After Thursday’s blunder a movement was launched to conscript Ryan, the fiscal hawk, as a compromise candidate who was thought to hold universal regard.

Even as he said he didn’t want the job, a far-right movement against him was formed.

Hours after he announced his withdrawal from the race for the Speaker’s chair McCarthy was asked by the conservative National Review if the House Republicans were ungovernable. “I don’t know,” he said. “Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom.”

He was not alone in his dismal outlook.

“It is total confusion – a banana republic,” the New York Republican Peter King told The Washington Post. “Any plan, anything you anticipate, who knows what’ll happen. People are crying. They don’t have any idea how this will unfold at all.”

And so the Republican Party is heading into the election year split and, so far, leaderless, while the Tea Party cheers at its success at destroying the leaders of the party it occupied as a host organism in 2010.

Boehner has agreed to stay on as Speaker until the mess is sorted out.

After he quit, but before he later agreed to hold on, he told colleagues: “I had this terrible nightmare last night that I was trying to get out and I couldn’t get out. And a hand came reaching, pulling me.”

The List: The top British male sitcom heroes

The unhappy couple: Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales) with husband Basil (John Cleese)Basil Fawlty – Fawlty Towers The irascible host of Fawlty Towers is possibly the most inhospitable hotelier of all time. Basil Fawlty existed for just 12 half-hour episodes during the 1970s, in what was not an entirely inaccurate portrayal of the warmth of British hospitality standards. Given Fawlty’s short fuse, it’s incredible that he (or John Cleese) survived the two seasons. A favourite meltdown is most definitely the “damn good thrashing” of his “vicious bastard” of a car with a tree branch.

Del Boy – Only Fools and Horses Britain’s worst entrepeneur never failed to be a lovably cheeky character. Despite a long string of dodgy dealings, he never erred into mean-spirited or malicious behaviour but remained at the mercy of his materialistic aspirations as a flag bearer for ’80s culture. A devoted head of the household – with younger half-brother “plonker” Rodney, Uncle Albert and Grandad under his careful watch – his affectations and misuse of French were nothing less than endearingly hilarious (“Mange tout, mange tout”). Best moment: trying to impress a couple of women in the pub by leaning on the bar – “play it cool” – but careering through the open hatch.

David Brent – The Office  In common with Fawlty Towers in having just 12 episodes, The Office was a short but hugely sweet experience. Brent at times was almost unwatchable due to his cringeworthy behaviour. Ricky Gervais nailed the oblivious, falsely modest middle manager who is a familiar character in most offices. He produced dazzling motivational quotes such as: “If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven’t understood the seriousness of the situation”, and his iconic dance scene where he “sort of fused Flashdance with MC Hammer shit” remains his defining moment.

Rick – The Young Ones

More 1980s culture with a group of four unlikely housemates who reflected the anarchic rebellion against Thatcherite Britain. People’s Poet Rick was an obnoxious leftie student of Scumbag College with an inexplicable fondness for Cliff Richard and played with snotty, spotty glory by Rik Mayall. He was constantly the butt of slapstick jokes and disrespect by his flatmates, Mike, Neil and Vyvyan, the latter of whom said Rick’s name came with a silent “P”. Finest moment? His poem about Cliff: “Oh Cliff/sometimes it must be difficult not to feel as if/You really are a cliff/when fascists keep trying to push you over it.”

Edmund Blackadder – Blackadder

It is a wonder how this Machiavellian nightmare managed to engage viewers for so long and so religiously. Edmund Blackadder, who audiences followed from medieval England to the trenches of the First World War between 1983 and 1989, was wonderfully scathing, contemptuous and scheming, and a terrible bully to his lackey Baldrick (Tony Robinson). Rowan Atkinson’s rubbery features perfectly inhabited this wilycharacter. His biggest scene? Leading his men over the top to certain doom on the Western Front for the Blackadder Goes Forth finale, and reducing a nation to a quivering mess of tears in the process.

Jim Royle – The Royle Family

Far more interesting than the other Royal Family, this show which ran 1998-2000 was set mainly around the TV in the tiny living room of the Royles’ Manchester home, with patriarch Jim (Ricky Tomlinson) unlikely to move from his throne/armchair. Most of his grumpy conversation is peppered with his catchphrase “My arse!” and divulging all the details every time his visits the toilet. He also proved there was a fun side to him by busting some brilliant moves while stripping wallpaper to Mambo No.5.

Bernard Black – Black Books

It’s funny how so many favourite characters on sitcoms just hate people. In Black Books, which ran from 2000 to 2004 and was written by Dylan Moran and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, Moran plays Bernard Black, a staunchly misanthropic, possibly alcoholic, depressive, unkempt bookstore owner who hates his customers who he refers to as “time-wasting bastards”. One has to pay him respect for his dedication to a life of sloth and misbehaviour. The wine lolly? Genius.

Officer Crabtree – ‘Allo ‘Allo

An honorary mention goes to not the British actors pretending to be French or German, but the Brit pretending to be a Brit pretending to be a Frenchman. Gorden Kaye led the 1980s show as bumbling cafe owner Rene but it’s Officer Crabtree (Arthur Bostrom) who gets a nod here, playing the British spy posing as a French policeman with the worst, or best, skill for mangling words. Marking his arrival with his signature greeting “Good moaning!”, he also had a fine ability to ramp up the show’s already loaded innuendo and risque factor. As he put it so succinctly: “My lips are soiled.”